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B.C. Place janitor death not reported for two years

The janitorial contractor for Vancouver’s Olympic stadium violated the Workers’ Compensation Act because it concealed the death of a worker for almost two years.

WorkSafeBC documents obtained under Freedom of Information said a Modern Cleaners employee “reported a severe headache before a sudden collapse” around 1:30 a.m. on Nov. 13, 2006 at B.C. Place Stadium.

“The worker was transported by ambulance to Vancouver General Hospital where she was pronounced deceased later that day,” said the incident report.

The worker’s name and cause of death were censored. The death was called “natural” -- an umbrella term that includes old age and disease. WSBC was finally notified Oct. 6, 2008, but no claim was established for the worker.

WSBC officer Alison Camplejohn found Modern broke the law because "an employer must immediately notify the board of the occurrence of any accident that resulted in serious injury to or the death of a worker."

A source said the elderly woman collapsed against a pillar in the section 228 concourse, nine hours after the B.C. Lions’ 2006 West final victory. No first aid attendant was on-site. An ambulance arrived five minutes after a 9-1-1 call.

“She was East Indian, but she was turning white, her mouth was open.” said the source. “About 11 or 12 women cleaners were around her, some were crying.”

Another source said the dead woman’s name was Pritam Kaur Sandhu, which was verified by Modern general manager Canny Atwal.

Minutes of B.C. Place’s Nov. 28, 2008 Occupational Health and Safety Committee meeting said: “This issue was brought to the safety committee and the item was accidentally omitted from the minutes. The committee was told in error that (security supervisor) Eric Borglund had conducted an investigation, but this turned out not to be the case.”

In a Feb. 4, 2009 phone call with Camplejohn, B.C. Place safety officer John Marshall denied the minutes were purposely edited.

"The committee felt that they did not believe it was work related and therefore did not put on the committee minutes."

Bob Mackin reports for Vancouver 24 hours

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