Coldstream Concrete: Man who lost arm injured before, co-workers say

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A London man who had his arm amputated after being pinned beneath a massive concrete block had suffered another workplace injury less than a month earlier, say co-workers.

Geoffrey Morphew was inspecting two box culverts — cement structures that allow water to flow under a road or bridge — at Coldstream Concrete in Middlesex Centre Wednesday when the straddle crane holding one of the structures reportedly failed.

Morphew, 38, was taken to hospital where his right arm was amputated at the shoulder. The father of four was awake Thursday, but faces a long road to recovery.

The close call comes less than a month after Morphew was hospitalized for carbon monoxide poisoning, co-workers said.

The seven-year Coldstream employee had been using a gas-powered saw to cut concrete when he was overcome by fumes from a generator last month. Morphew complained of dizziness and had to go to the hospital to be hooked up to an oxygen tank, co-workers said.

It’s unclear whether the incident was reported to Ontario’s Labour Ministry.

Multiple Coldstream employees, none of whom wanted to be identified, are criticizing the company for asking workers to stay on the job after Morphew was hurt in the most recent incident.

“I can’t believe they told us to keep working that day,” said one employee. “It’s a kick in the nuts for every guy that works there.”

The company held a meeting Thursday morning to brief staff on Morphew’s condition.

The man operating the crane Wednesday, identified as a close friend of Morphew’s, didn’t come to work Thursday, co-workers said.

“He was the one driving the crane when his best friend lost his arm,” another employee said. “(He) blames himself so much.”

Coldstream assistant manager Amy Koteles declined comment on why staff were asked to stay on the job Wednesday.

“I don’t know that I really want to get into this,” Koteles said before hanging up on a reporter.

A family-run company with about 70 employees, Coldstream Concrete provides pre-cast concrete products for the construction and drainage industry.

A Labour Ministry spokesperson said Coldstream was ordered to secure the site around the crane.

Red tape surrounded the yellow crane on the company’s sprawling work site 25 kilometres northwest of London. Two people in reflective vests stood at the scene.

A forklift was parked at the base of the crane. The machine was used to lift the 23,000-kilogram block off Morphew, witnesses said.

An online fundraiser launched for Morphew had raised $3,000 by Thursday night.

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