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Vale 'devastated' by smelter worker's death

By: Heidi Ulrichsen - Sudbury Northern Life

 | Apr 07, 2014 - 1:11 PM |

Worker received severe head trauma

“Words cannot express how devastated” Vale is by the April 6 death of one of its employees and the injury of another at the Copper Cliff Smelter Complex, said the company's vice-president of Ontario and UK operations.

“It's an extremely sad time for us all and even more so to the individual's family and his loved ones,” Kelly Strong said, speaking at an April 7 press conference. “Our deepest condolences, thoughts and prayers go out to them at this time.”

He said the company's critical stress management team is on hand to support the men's co-workers, friends and family members.

Strong didn't go into details about the incident, which occurred at around 6 p.m., saying more investigation needs to be done.

However, Steelworkers Local 6500 president Rick Bertrand, who represents Vale workers, told Northern Life according to early reports, the worker was killed when he was struck in the head by a pin that broke off a crusher and was released under high pressure.

The victims' names aren't being released at this time pending notification of next of kin.

The 36-year-old man killed in the incident had been working for Vale for two years, while the injured 28-year-old man had one year in. Both were industrial mechanics.

“Collectively, both individuals have about 20 years' experience, most of it prior to coming to Vale,” Strong said.

The incident occurred in the casting and crushing area of the smelter complex, where bricks of cooled metal are crushed before being sent onto the matte processing area, he said.

The man who was killed received severe head trauma, Strong said. The injured man, who is currently in hospital in stable condition, received a concussion and lacerations to his face.

After the incident, employees at the smelter were sent home with pay. The facility is not currently operating. Vale is currently evaluating when it will be started up again.

The scene of the accident has been frozen by the Ministry of Labour, who are investigating along with Greater Sudbury Police.

Vale said it intends to conduct a joint investigation with Steelworkers Local 6500. But Bertrand said the union has made no decision about participating with the company or conducting its own.

The company and the union held a joint investigation into the January 2012 death of miner Stephen Perry at Vale's Coleman Mine.

However, they conducted separate investigations into the June 2011 deaths of miners Jason Chenier and Jordan Fram at Vale's Stobie Mine after they were unable to agree on the process.

Strong said the last time a Vale smelter worker was killed was in the early 1990s. He said he's not sure how many smelter workers have been killed at the company over the years.
Heidi Ulrichsen

Heidi Ulrichsen

Staff Writer


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