15-year-old buried in hot asphalt while working construction

Manitoba law prohibits youth under 16 from working on construction sites
|hrreporter.com|Last Updated: 08/08/2008

The Manitoba government is investigating the circumstances around the death of a 15-year-old who was buried in hot asphalt while working on a construction site in Stony Mountain, Man.

Under Manitoba's Employment Standards Code, the minimum age of employment is 16, unless the employer obtains a permit from the director of Employment Standards. The code also explicitly prohibits youth under 16 from working on construction sites.

The teen, identified by people in the community as Andrew James, was doing road repairs in the town about 20 kilometres north of Winnipeg. It appears he was working for Interlake Asphalt Paving and helping unload a truck when he was buried under the hot asphalt.

Workers and people in the neighbourhood tried to dig him out, but even though they dug to the top of the youth's head, there was no movement. One man, who was using a shovel, burned his hand on the hot asphalt.

The town's fire chief said the 15-year-old was standing behind the truck when the load of asphalt, being dumped into a pile to be used for various projects, knocked him over.

Emergency crews knew the victim was dead immediately after arriving because when a person is buried that deep, it's impossible to breathe with so much pressure.

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