HALIFAX – A lawyer for Irving Shipbuilding entered a not guilty plea Thursday to charges under Nova Scotia’s Occupational Health and Safety Act after a worker suffered a serious head injury at the Halifax Shipyard in 2014.
Mick Ryan entered the plea during a brief hearing in provincial court, where the case will return Dec. 8 to discuss trial dates.
Ryan said outside court that he expects a trial would take up to six weeks because of the amount of disclosure in the complicated case, though the Crown said they would need much less time.
“Four to five days is what they’re suggesting it will take them to present their case and in my opinion, it’s going to take a lot longer than that,” he said.
“You haven’t seen the disclosure package we’ve received from the Crown. It’s about eight inches thick.”
An information to obtain a search warrant filed with the court says the charges relate to work that was being done on Canadian Coast Guard patrol vessels on Jan. 3, 2014.
An occupational health and safety officer alleges in the document that a wire rope loop attached to a ship’s cradle broke as it was being pulled by a winch, striking a worker employed by Irving Equipment Ltd. in the head.
The charges allege that Irving Shipbuilding did not ensure the operator of a machine or tool was competent and that it failed to take every reasonable precaution to ensure the health and safety of people at or near the workplace.
The ship was being moved along a series of tracks at the shipyard during a launch attempt when the loop broke.
The document says the worker suffered a fractured skull and brain injury.
It outlines a series of events that led to the accident in a procedure that had been completed on six ships previously.
“However on this attempt, the cradle failed to move, resulting in a static line pull,” the officer alleges in the document.