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Building Collapse Kills One - 2003

Published by Jonathan Jenkins - Toronto Sun in Health and Safety · 1/10/2015 07:34:00
Tags: WarehouseSafety
I have had requests for more information on this tragic accident and managed to find this article dated August 2003 from the Toronto Sun--Brampton is just northwest of Toronto.

Tonnes of food crush worker - Warehouse pals search freezer in vain for man


BRAMPTON -- Distraught refrigerator warehouse workers dug frantically by hand through a mountain of frozen food after tons collapsed on one of their colleagues yesterday. "We're all brothers here," Robert Keane, 33, said as he took a break in the sun to warm up from the -27 C freezer. "The mood is very driven. We're working our tails off. We need to find him and I don't think one of us wants to stop until we do."
But the news Keane and his friends didn't want to hear came from fire officials 7 1/2 hours after the food-laden racks at the VersaCold warehouse collapsed. The buckled structure was simply too unsafe for the search to continue and there was no chance of finding the victim alive.
"We don't know where he is. He's under the pile," said assistant division Chief Gary Jarrett with Brampton Fire. "We just weren't willing to put other lives at risk."
Jarrett said the major concern now is preventing the building from collapsing further.
"We'll have to bring in some heavy equipment and pull it apart like an onion," he said.

The victim, whose name was not released, was working alone restacking pallets of frozen food at 6:30 a.m., just 30 minutes before his night shift ended.

Somehow, five of the 15-metre high racks holding thousands of 800-kilo pallets began to topple over, taking each other out in a domino effect, causing the ceiling to collapse and one wall to bulge out.
"It looks like a plane went through it," said Mark, who didn't give his last name.
With no room to bring in machinery, rescuers had to shift the tonnes of frozen pancakes and waffles, juice concentrate, corn and peas by hand in the frigid cold, with the floor coated in three centimetres of ice and the sprinklers going off.
Keane said he noticed the damage to the freezer, just one of several in the sprawling facility at 107 Walker Place, near Airport Rd. and Steeles Ave., as soon as he arrived for work.

"People in all parts of the building (said) it was almost like a vacuum effect," he said. "When the roof buckled, I guess, a large rush of air just came blasting out the freezer doors.
Rescue teams formed a human chain inside the freezer to move the mound of cartons, dumping them off the loading docks where two backhoes scooped the thawing food into dumpsters.
But activity stopped about 2 p.m. when fire officials gathered the workers and broke the bad news -- with no hope of finding the man alive, it was just too dangerous to keep working.
The employees then slowly drifted home, too exhausted and upset to make any comment.
"I'd like to commend all the employees who work here and the police, fire and ambulance," Peel police Const. Wendy Sims said. "The night shift stayed, people who were on days off came in, and people who were working the afternoon shift came in early."
The 57-year-old victim, married with children, was well-regarded by his co-workers, she said.

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