Drugmaker Pleads Not Guilty in Death of Lab Technician

A worker at Sepracor Canada's Windsor plant died after allegedly being exposed to vapours from trimethylsilyl diazomethane at his workstation.

WINDSOR, N.S. — A drug manufacturer has pleaded not guilty to five charges in the death of a lab technician who allegedly handled a chemical in a Nova Scotia plant.

A lawyer for Sepracor Canada entered the not guilty pleas to charges under the provincial Occupational Health and Safety Act in provincial court Tuesday.

Lawyer Mick Ryan waived reading of the charges and told Judge Alan Tufts that a trial would take about 15 days because of the large volume of technical evidence that will be presented.

A trial date was set for May 2 in the death of 46-year-old Roland Daigle.

He died in hospital on Oct. 7, 2008, after allegedly being exposed to vapours from trimethylsilyl diazomethane at his workstation at the plant in Windsor.

The pharmaceutical company is charged with failing to ensure adequate personal protection equipment was available in the work area, failing to ensure that an adequate venting system was in place and failing to ensure that the employee was instructed in the safe use of the chemical.

Sepracor is also charged with failing to instruct an employee in safe use of a substance in the company's Windsor lab and failing to ensure that no person would disturb the scene of an accident after it occurred.

Daigle, a quality control technician, died 18 hours after the alleged exposure.

Sepracor said in a written statement after the death that Daigle was in good condition when he left the lab and that it is unaware of any link between his death and work conditions at the plant.

Sepracor, based in Massachusetts, no longer owns the plant. It was sold to a Japanese company in October 2009.

No company officials attended the court session Tuesday, said Ryan.