Atlas Dewatering Corporation, a Concord company dealing in groundwater control, was fined $75,000 on February 10 for a violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act after a worker was critically injured. Patrick Maher, a supervisor with the company, was fined $6,000 in relation to the same incident.
On June 12, 2009, Atlas Dewatering Corporation was working at the bridge between Chapman St. and Silver Lake Rd. in Port Dover. The company was installing a temporary cofferdam so that engineers could inspect the existing dam. A cofferdam is an enclosure within a water environment that allows water to be pumped out to create a dry environment. Workers were using a crane to install the cofferdam while an electrical conductor remained energized overhead. A worker came into contact with the crane’s hook and received an electrical shock that caused extensive nerve damage leading to amputation.
A Ministry of Labour investigation found that there was less than three metres between the crane and the energized 4,800 volt conductor at the time of the incident.
Atlas Dewatering Corporation pleaded guilty to failing to ensure that there was at least three meters between the crane and the energized conductor. Patrick Maher pleaded guilty to the same.
The fines were imposed by Justice of the Peace Richard Kivell. In addition to the fines, the court imposed a 25-per-cent victim fine surcharge, as required by the Provincial Offences Act. The surcharge is credited to a special provincial government fund to assist victims of crime.
The regulations in this matter are very explicit and are there for a reason.
Under the Construction Regulations 213/91, Section 188, (2) it reads;
“No object shall be brought closer to an energized overhead electrical conductor with a nominal phase-to-phase voltage rating set out in column 1 and the distance specified in column 2.”
It says that between 750 volts and 150,000 volts the Minimum Safe Approach Distance (MSAD) is 3 metres or 10 feet.
Again, by not knowing this part of the regulations the company could be charged under section 25, sub section 2 (h), “An employer shall take every precaution reasonable in the circumstance for the protection of the worker.”
As well as section 27 sub-section 2(c), “the supervisor shall take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker.”
All companies should do a walk-through of any project or construction site and make themselves aware of any power lines in their work area. The law would support this! No guess work is necessary. It should always be part of a preliminary examination of any worksite and the architect should do a site plan showing any exposed or energized overhead wires so the site people can plan the work accordingly.
Remember — In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”
‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.
Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Foundation Level
VP & Senior Trainer