Two Town of Stettler employees are at home recovering from injuries sustained on the worksite in the past two weeks.
The employees, whose names have not been released by the town, suffered a separated shoulder in the first incident and a concussion in the second incident.
On Aug. 31, town employees were working in a trench when the lower wall gave way, striking the employee working in the trench. He was evacuated from the trench by his colleagues, who brought him to the hospital where he was treated for his injuries.
Roughly two weeks later, on Friday, Sept. 11, another employee was working with the town’s hydrovac when a piece of equipment failed, causing a hose to fall off the equipment and land on the employee, bearing him to the ground.
“In this case his colleagues called an ambulance, since he’d struck his head,” town CAO Greg Switenky said. The worker is recovering from a concussion.
While both are not yet back at work, Switenky said he anticipated it would not be long before both were back at the job in some capacity, depending on their recovery.
“We’re proud of our safety program and proud of our safety record,” Switenky said, noting that while there’s been minor injuries – cuts and bruises – as part of the job, there hasn’t been an injury as serious as these in more than a decade.
“I think the last was in 2002,” he said. “They’re very rare, but they seem to come in bunches.”
Currently both the town and Alberta Occupational Health and Safety are looking into both incidents, determining the root causes of the incidents and what can be done differently to ensure a safer environment.
Switenky said the investigations aren’t about assigning blame to any one individual or the town, but rather determining what exactly happened to create the situations in which the two employees found themselves.
“We want to know what they did, what train of thought led them there, know if equipment failed or wasn’t used properly, so we can prevent it from happening again,” Switenky said.
He said that had these situations happened and workers not been injured, the town would have investigated them as “near misses.”
“Had the trench caved in and no one was there, or the equipment failed but not hit anyone, we’d still investigate to find out why it happened,” he said.
Neither of the two employees were ever hurt so badly to be in life-threatening condition, Switenky noted, and he said he looks forward to welcoming them back to work.