SUDBURY -- A Chelmsford-based construction company has been fined $210,000 for the workplace death of an employee in September 2018.

The victim, 58, worked for R.M. Bélanger Ltd., a company that provides institutional, commercial and industrial construction services, the Ministry of Labour said in a news release Friday.

The incident took place Sept. 17 that year in the parking lot of Forest Ridge Golf Course near Sudbury, where the company stored telephone poles.

The worker was dispatched with a truck and flatbed trailer to pick up a pole for use on a Bélanger construction site. At the golf course, the worker, who was also a supervisor, was working on the site. When the Bélanger truck pulled into the parking lot, that worker offered to load the required pole for the driver.

"Using a machine equipped with a fork attachment, the worker picked up a pole and approached the flatbed trailer," the release said. "The forks were not spread apart as far as possible, creating instability with the pole as the loader moved. The pole was not secured in any way to the forks."

The truck driver was on the flatbed trailer and had placed a long piece of lumber on the trailer to act as a stopper for the pole. The driver was standing on the other side of the lumber from the side of the trailer approached by the loader.

"The operator of the loader tilted the forks forward, dropping the pole onto the flatbed," the release said. "The pole rolled toward the piece of lumber. The pole had a warp in it, and rolled over the piece of lumber."

The driver, standing on the trailer, tried to jump over the rolling pole but was hit by the pole and was knocked off the trailer. The pole rolled off the trailer, killing the victim.

Following a trial, the company was convicted Oct. 1, 2020, followed by sentencing on Feb. 26 in Sudbury.

Bélanger was fined $210,000 in provincial offences court in Sudbury. The court also imposed a 25-per-cent victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act. The surcharge is credited to a special provincial government fund to assist victims of crime.

Bélanger Limited was found guilty of two offences: failing to use a safe procedure for loading a pole onto a flatbed trailer; and failing to ensure that no worker was in an endangered position during the loading of a pole onto a flatbed trailer.

These were both contrary to the Ontario Health and Safety Act.