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'It's tragic': Sault mayor, MPP offer condolences in wake of Algoma Steel death

Algoma Steel has postponed Saturday's 'Family Day' event; Ministry of Labour investigating death of GFL Environmental employee performing maintenance work
202107-16 Algoma Steel File BC (1)
Algoma Steel file photo.

Sault Ste. Marie Mayor Matthew Shoemaker is offering his thoughts, prayers and condolences to the family of the fallen contract worker who was cleaning an out-of-service gas line at Algoma Steel Thursday before losing consciousness and succumbing to his injuries in hospital. 

The Ministry of Labour has confirmed the worker was an employee of GFL Environmental Inc.

“It’s tragic,” said Shoemaker, speaking with SooToday Friday. “I lived here my whole life and I’ve seen that type of thing happen, and you hope that the family is getting all the support and comfort they need.

“It should never happen, and it’s always a tragedy when it does — and the hope is it never happens again.”

Sault Ste. Marie MPP Ross Romano will be meeting with Algoma Steel representatives Friday to discuss the workplace fatality. 

“Right now my heart goes out to the family and all the workers at Algoma Steel — every last one of them,” he told SooToday Friday. 

Romano called the death at the Sault steelmaker an “extremely concerning situation.”

“I think for anyone who was present, the impacts, they’re significant," he said. "One [death] is one too many, and at this point my heart goes out to the families of anyone who was involved." 

Algoma Steel confirmed the employee of a contractor who was retained to perform specialized maintenance work died after a June 15 workplace incident at the plant. 

In a release issued Friday morning, the steelmaker said a worker lost consciousness while cleaning an out-of-service gas line Thursday afternoon, prompting Algoma Steel emergency services personnel, Sault Ste. Marie Fire Services and paramedics to attend the scene. 

The worker was transported to Sault Area Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. The Ministry of Labour has been notified and an investigation is underway.

“We extend our sincere condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues affected by this devastating loss. The safety and well-being of everyone in our workplace is a top priority and core value at Algoma Steel,” said Algoma Steel Chief Executive Officer Michael D. Garcia in the release. “We wish to express our gratitude for the prompt response and assistance provided by the emergency services personnel and the dedicated team members who were on-site during this challenging incident. 

“They demonstrated the utmost professionalism and commitment in dealing with the situation and providing urgent medical assistance.”

Counselling services have been made available to Algoma employees and those of the contractor who may have been impacted by the event.

Garcia is scheduled to speak to Sault Ste. Marie City Council next week.

“Michael Garcia still plans to attend at city council on Monday,” Brenda Stenta, the company's communications manager, confirmed to SooToday. “We look forward to providing the mayor and council with an update.”

United Steelworkers Local 2251 President Mike Da Prat, whose union represents 2,000 hourly employees at the Sault steelmaker, was briefed about the tragic news Thursday afternoon. 

“It's absolutely is devastating,” said Da Prat during a telephone interview with SooToday on Thursday. “And that is why we have been fighting so hard and so long to get our health and safety program back on track.”

Algoma Steel has announced that it has postponed its annual Family Day event, scheduled for tomorrow, until further notice due to the fatality. 

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.


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