A pedestrian was killed in Montreal early Monday morning after a metal plate fell on him as he walked by a downtown construction site, the same day the province’s workplace safety board issued a statement calling for greater attention to safety in construction zones.

Saad Syed, 32, was walking by the site of a new condominium development on Mountain St. near Rene Levesque Blvd. around 8:30 a.m. as a front-end loader carrying a large metal plate was driving past.

A chain holding a three-tonne steel plate snapped, dropping the plate on Syed’s head, just a few blocks from the GEOS Language Academy where Syed worked as a teacher.

Paramedics took him to the hospital where he was declared dead.

Syed’s school released a statement on Monday: "He’s going to be greatly missed. We are all in shock. We loved him,"

CTV Montreal reporter Maya Johnson said many passersby witnessed the incident and "were obviously very traumatized by it." One witness was in tears as she gave a statement to police, Johnson said.

The province’s workplace safety board is leading the investigation into the incident alongside the coroner’s office, with the help of police.

According to a spokesperson for Quebec’s workplace safety board, there was no safety latch on the hook to keep the plate in place.

It’s not yet clear why such a heavy piece of steel wasn’t properly reinforced.

The incident took place the same day that some 160,000 construction workers returned to work after the two-week annual construction holiday. It also occurred on the same day the workplace safety board issued a communique, “reminding them of the importance of being vigilant at construction sites and taking care to ensure health and safety,” Johnson reported.

The busiest time of the construction season falls between August and November she said, and is also when 42 per cent of construction site accidents occur.