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Supervisor jailed, company fined, in death of Edmonton worker

A job site supervisor has been sentenced to four months in jail, and his employer fined almost half a million dollars, after a labourer was killed in Edmonton in a trench collapse in 2015.

While reading the sentencing of Sukhwinder Nagra in court on Wednesday, Judge Michelle Doyle said she found Nagra’s culpability in the death of Fred Tomyn “extremely high.”

The company, Sahib Contracting, was fined $425,000 and ordered to pay a victim fine surcharge of $63,750.

“I don’t know what I’m really feeling right now,” said Shawn Tomyn, Fred Tomyn’s younger brother, outside the courthouse.

“But obviously no, I’m not satisfied,” said Tomyn of the sentence. “He should spend years (in jail), my brother died.”

Nagra and the company had earlier pleaded guilty to a charge under the Occupational Health and Safety Act of failing to take reasonable care to protect the health and safety of another worker.

Shawn Tomyn

Shawn Tomyn said he is dissatisfied with the four-month sentence given his brother’s supervisor. (Lydia Neufeld/CBC)

While a guilty plea can be a mitigating factor in sentencing, Doyle said she found no remorse on the part of Sahib Contracting or Nagra.

“This corporation and Mr. Nagra exploited the vulnerability of a vulnerable worker at their own profit,” said Doyle. “They put their own interests ahead of any regulations.”

The judge said she’s been advised the company is essentially without assets, and therefore doesn’t expect it will ever pay the fine.

“However, a fine of this magnitude will continue to have an impact on corporations motivated to conduct their business in the fashion of Sahib Contracting Inc.,” Doyle said.

On April 28, 2015, Brian Frederick Tomyn, 55, had been working with a backhoe operator, digging a trench at 10746 123rd Street.

He was working to connect new water and sewer lines to a nearby home.

The trench was not braced in any way and a wall collapsed, burying Tomyn alive, Doyle said.

Firefighters worked for several hours to free the man.

When his body was located, his hands still held the equipment to connect the pipes, she added.

Memorial wall

Some of the money from fines such as those imposed in this case, should be used to create a memorial wall on the grounds of the Alberta legislature, said Shawn Tomyn.

“At least honour the workers who’ve been killed, for what, 10 bucks an hour, five bucks an hour, maybe a meal. That’s not worth a life,” he said.

Without this kind of ‘wall of remembrance’, Tomyn said workers killed on the job are in the news for a day and then forgotten.

A wall of this kind might make employers think twice about the safety of their workers, he said.

“Because I don’t know if this (sentence) is going to make people think. Four months is not much time to think,” Tomyn said.


Lydia Neufeld · CBC News

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