Manitoba Business Owner Employed Under Aged Workers

A Manitoba (Canada) business owner has pleaded guilty to a number of workplace and safety violations — including employing under-aged workers — following the death of a 15-year-old boy who was buried in burning asphalt.
According to the Canadian Press, Gerald Shepell, 48, owner of Interlake Paving, recently admitted he breached both the Workplace Health and Safety Act and Employment Standards Code in the July 2008 tragedy just north of Winnipeg. (WCxKit)
Andrew James died almost instantly when he became trapped below asphalt which spilled from a truck while working at a former Manitoba Hydro substation in Stony Mountain.
Several co-workers, including Shepell, desperately tried to save the teen after he apparently lost his footing while shoveling asphalt from a trailer box into a back-hoe scoop.
The company was dumping asphalt into a massive pile to use for various projects around town when the accident occurred.
Provincial law requires all construction site employees to be at least 16 unless a special permit has been granted.
Shepell admitted James started employment for him when he was just 14, along with another boy who was 13.
Officials are seeking major fines against Shepell, who has owned the business since 2005 after taking it over from a family member. The maximum penalty is $180,000.
Defence lawyer Randy Minuk is seeking penalties not topping $30,000, claiming anything more would likely place him and his employees out of business.
The boy's parents were in court to support Shepell, claiming they hold no ill will towards him for what took place. (WCxKit)
They have previously indicated they would help him pay fines if he were to be convicted and that they were thankful for the opportunity he provided their son.

Author Robert Elliott
, executive vice president, Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. Contact: or 860-553-6604.
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