Coroner calls for better safety training after young BMX champ dies at Island fish farm

VICTORIA — An investigation report says a Canadian BMX riding champion who died in a workplace accident at a Vancouver Island fish farm lacked proper training to safely do his job.

A BC Coroners Service report classified the death of 18-year-old deckhand Aidan Webber in March 2019 as accidental, resulting from crushing trauma from being pinned between a metal stanchion and a barge.

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Webber, who was from Nanaimo, won Canada's BMX championship for junior men in 2018 and represented Canada at the world championships in 2016 in Colombia.

A 2019 BMX Nanaimo Facebook post pays tribute to Webber.

"Aidan was an amazing son, brother, rider and friend to many. He has been a constant figure racing around Nanaimo's tracks and tracks all around the world," the post says. "His friends come from far and wide. Aidan will be missed by all."

The coroner's report says the accident occurred at the open ocean farm in waters northeast of Port Hardy when Webber was attempting to secure the barge to a walkway and it rose up, pinning him.

"The training that had been provided to Mr. Webber was informal in nature and did not provide specific guidelines for docking safety, including instructing deckhands to await instruction before moving off a vessel onto a mooring location," says the report by Coroner Andrew Washbrook, citing an investigation by the worker safety agency WorkSafeBC.

"WorkSafe also found a lack of training and safe work procedures in place," says the report, dated Nov. 16, 2020.

The coroner's report says WorkSafeBC identified violations of the Workers Compensation Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation.

The report recommends the employer, Chuck Williams of Sea Roamer Marine Services Ltd., keep a detailed record of all training and orientation provided to workers.

Williams was not immediately available for comment.

The report says WorkSafeBC identified a failure to provide workers with "adequate information, instruction, training and supervision to ensure the health and safety of those workers carrying out their work and to ensure the health and safety of other workers at the workplace."

The agency also identified violations of safety regulations, including failure to ensure young workers are given health and safety orientation prior to starting their employment and docking procedure training.

It also identified a failure by the employer to keep records of orientation and training provided to workers.

Washbrook's report recommends Sea Roamer Marine Services develop and implement a formal and comprehensive training and orientation program for workers, including safe docking procedures.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2021.

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