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CN Rail in court over worker’s death

Day of Mourning

As people across the country mark a Day of Mourning for workplace deaths in Canada today, lawyers, representatives and a judge will gather in a Fort St. John courtroom to decide whether or not a company was responsible for the death of a Dawson Creek man who died while on the job in 2012.

CN Rail was scheduled to appear in court Monday to face charges relating to an alleged safety failure in an incident that occurred near Fort St. John Nov. 28, 2012 that resulted in the death of Bryan Giesbrecht, a  30-year-old conductor.

CN Rail faces two counts of failing to ensure employee health and safety was protected, and two counts of failing to raise awareness of a health and safety hazard. 

The company pleaded not guilty to all counts.

Prosecutor Charles Hough said the incident involved a sign that Giesbrecht could not see properly on a remote site halfway between Fort St. John and Fort Nelson. At the time of the incident, it was quite dark, and a flashlight was Giesbrecht’s only source of light. Their case states that CN Rail didn’t adequately mark that hazard. 

Giesbrecht was unable to avoid a derailed fuel tanker and suffered fatal injuries.

A lawyer for CN Rail, Mark Rowan, said he would give a statement once the Crown’s case was finished.

According to Labour Canada’s website, the maximum penalty for an offence against the Canadian Labour Code — which CN Rail is accused of violating — that results in death or serious injury can result in a $1 million fine.

The trial could be a long one. Online court records show dates are booked through June.

Giesbrecht’s mother Katie said she  plans to attend the trial for the sake of her son, even though other family members have said that it would be too hard for them to do so.

“He’d only been there a year and a half,” she said.

According to Giesbrecht, when company representatives informed her about Bryan's death, they referred to him as her "son," and not by name.

 “(CN Rail is) such a big company, he just got lost,” she said.