NB Court orders $100K safety bursary in memory of teen who died at WWTP

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A New Brunswick court has ordered Springhill Construction Limited to donate $100,000 to establish a bursary in the memory of a teen who died during an upgrade project at the City of Fredericton’s Barker Street wastewater treatment plant in 2018.

Springhill Construction had faced a criminal charge of negligence causing the death of Michael Henderson, 18, but company officials instead pleaded guilty to a charge under New Brunswick’s Occupational Health and Safety Act for failing to provide the necessary training, equipment and supervision to ensure an employee’s health and safety.

Henderson drowned during the testing of a clarifier at the jobsite. Among the agreed facts in the case was that the company failed to recognize the hole Henderson was working in was a “confined space.”

Once the sentence was imposed, the court withdrew the charge of criminal negligence causing death.

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The $100,000 donation will establish the Michael Henderson Carpentry Bursary to promote health and safety awareness in the workplace. Student applicants at New Brunswick Community College would be asked to write an essay on the topic of workplace safety and would need to submit a letter of reference attesting to their dedication to the subject.

The court heard 13 victim-impact statements from Henderson’s family and loved ones, including Eric Henderson, the victim’s brother, who was at the site during the incident and even tried to save Michael. 

In September, the victim’s supervisor, Jason King, 46, was sentenced to three years in prison for criminal negligence causing death. He’s since appealed the decision and is on a release order pending a decision by the New Brunswick Court of Appeal.

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