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Engineers Charged in Fatal Scaffold Collapse

Two engineers have been charged with violations of Canada's Occupational Health and Safety Act in the fatal collapse of a scaffold that killed a worker.

A year ago, on Nov. 14, 2000, onlookers watched in horror as a scaffold suspended from the Ambassador Bridge spanning Michigan and Ontario collapsed, sending three men plummeting into the Detroit River and leaving four workers dangling from their safety harnesses.

Jamie Barker, one of the workers who fell into the water, died, and two men have been charged with violations of Canada''s Occupational Health and Safety Act. Canada''s Ministry of Labor released a statement this week that charged the men with "giving negligent or incompetent advice and/or certification on the design of a suspended scaffolding that endangered the lives of workers."

A hearing has been scheduled for Dec. 14 for George Snowden and Domenic Cugliari, both of the Toronto area. They face a maximum penalty of $25,000 and a year in jail if convicted.

Snowden and Cugliari were hired by Manz Harrison Muir Inc., the Windsor company painting the bridge, to consult on the design and use of the scaffold.

Manz Harrison Muir Inc. was not fined.

Nine workers were on the scaffold when it collapsed. The crew of a boat owned by the painting company pulled two men from the water, but did not realize until later that one man was still in the icy water. Barker''s body was found months later.

by Sandy Smith

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