Feb. 19, 2021, began as an ordinary day for Dawson Block
Dawson Block, 21, is now quadriplegic after falling at work last year. The company was fined $126,000.
SASKATOON – “He [Dawson Block] entering the site that day, he had no idea that he would not leave; that he would, in fact, never move a finger again,” Saskatoon Judge Quentin Douglas Agnew said in his written ruling against King Stud Contracting.
Judge Agnew fined King Stud $126,000 after the company pleaded guilty to violating health and safety regulations in Saskatoon Provincial Court on Dec. 8.
“Feb. February 19, 2021 started out as a regular day for Dawson Block,” continued Judge Agnew. “He was 20 years old, outgoing and popular, a motorcycle enthusiast. He was a first-year apprentice electrician and had spent the last four months working for the defendant framework company, King Stud Contracting Ltd. worked. It was his first experience in the construction industry.”
Court documents obtained by SASKTODAY.ca show King Stud was a small company with “something of a history with occupational health and safety inspectors.”
In the past five years, OHS inspectors had subpoenaed King Stud three times for 10 violations, including, most importantly to Dawson Block, four related to falls prevention and safety. Some of the violations involved using an unsafe aerial work platform as a work platform and improper use of fall protection equipment.
“These violations were identified on September 3, 2020, less than six months before Dawson Block’s final day of physical mobility,” Judge Agnew said.
On. On February 19, 2021, Block was working with Joshua Wollf, one of the owners of King Stud. They were working five yards [16 feet] in the air on a platform ordered by OHS King Stud in September 2020 could not be used for workers and only for material. However, its use as a working platform was a common practice for King Stud and they continued this practice even after being ordered by OHS to discontinue this use.
“Wollf decided not to let King Stud buy an actual work platform to save money,” Judge Agnew said in his written decision.
The platform had a floor, a waist-high chain-link wall on the crane side, and the same on both ends, but the ends were gates that could be opened. There was no roof and the front of the platform was open.
Before they stepped onto the work platform to assemble the rafters that morning, Block asked Wolff if they should wear fall protection. According to court documents, Wolff “wiped out” the proposal, in his own words. He said it was slowing down their work and that he wanted to get the job done and move to the next location.
On the platform, Wolff and Block were completing the gable rafters over the second-story balcony of the townhouse they were working on, and as Block stepped to his right, he pushed the unsecured gate on the right and it swung open. Block fell five meters to the ground and landed face down.
Block suffered a C5 spinal fracture and spent three months in the intensive care unit at the Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon. He wore a ventilator most of the time.
“He is quadriplegic and will remain so for the rest of his life,” Judge Agnew said. “He needs 24-hour care. He has no control over his bodily functions. He needs special equipment for every aspect of his life. He has to take various medications. None of these effects will change for the rest of his life.
“His victimization statement makes it clear that he faces these challenges with the best possible attitude, but also contains clear references to the ruin King Stud has made of his expected life.”
In his ruling, Judge Agnew noted that the fine is approximately equal to one year’s net proceeds to the company’s directors.
“Such a fine will constitute a very significant penalty for the directors of the company, but should not be so debilitating as to cause the collapse of King Stud,” Judge Agnew said.
“Will it be extremely uncomfortable for her for several years? Without a doubt; but nowhere near as uncomfortable as the rest of Dawson Block’s life will be as a result of her actions or inaction.”
A GoFundMe page was created by Matthew McGrath and Brucie McGrath for Ann Marie Paton last year to help Block. By December 2022, the fundraiser had raised $51,600 of its $50,000 goal. The City of LeRoy has also accepted donations on behalf of the family and issued tax receipts.
“My longtime best friend, Dawson Block, suffered a life-changing injury after falling,” McGrath wrote on the GoFundMe page. “He is now facing a C5 spinal injury. We know he will need surgery, extensive therapy, new appliances, house changes, and more. We’re thankful he doesn’t suffer a brain injury and are happy to report that he’s still cracking jokes and making everyone smile.
“Dawson is the nicest, kindest, most genuine jerk friend. His fun-loving nature makes it easy to smile when he’s around. He is loved beyond measure. He is a wonderful son, a sweet ‘little’ brother and an adoring uncle to his nieces and nephews.”
In March 2021, Paton wrote: “We have been overwhelmed with the support we have received. Thank you to everyone who donated, delivered meals and checked in with us for Dawson’s recovery. If you have not received a reply, please know that we have read your messages and are grateful to you. Dawson also receives [sic] his messages so keep sending them :)”
— Click here to read more about Crime, Cops and Court.