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On March 1, 2018, the Court of Qubec's Criminal and Penal Division found contractor
Mr. Sylvain Fournier, President of Excavation S. Fournier Inc., guilty of manslaughter
under the Criminal Code in the death of one of an employee.
Mr. Fournier was charged with manslaughter and criminal negligence causing death
for failing to secure a job site.
In April 2012, Mr. Fournier and several Excavation S. Fournier Inc. employees were on
a construction project engaged in replacing a sewer line. One employee, Mr. Gilles
Lvesque was positioned at the bottom of a trench, approximately 2.6 m deep, when
it collapsed. Mr. Lvesque was dragged and trapped below debris as well as a 500-
kilogram slab of concrete. Mr. Fournier attempted to rescue Mr. Lvesque, but also
became trapped waist deep in soil. Mr. Lvesque succumbed to his injures, while Mr.
Fournier sustained fractures to both of his legs. It took approximately 4 hours to
remove Mr. Fournier from the collapsed trench.
Health and Safety Violations
Based on the evidence presented during the trial, it was learned that there were numerous
violations of the Quebec Safety Code for the Construction Industry related to trench work
Trench walls that were not slopped
No shoring installed
Storage of soil piles close to the edges of the trench
No safe work procedures related to trench work
Workers not trained regarding trench safety
II. Charges and Convictions
The Contractor President was charged with manslaughter and criminal negligence. He was
found guilty on both counts but was convicted of manslaughter because of a rule that
prohibits a defendant from being convicted on multiple counts for the same offence. The
conviction was based on the following arguments made by the crown:
The trench was not shored, which is a contravention of the Safety Code for the