Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’
Con-Cast Pipe Inc. pleaded guilty and was fined $70,000 after a 1,100-pound steel pallet fell on a young worker, causing critical injuries.
The incident took place on August 18, 2015 in the yard of the company’s facility located at 299 Brock Road South in Guelph, where a number of concrete boxes sat in a row. A steel pallet was attached to each concrete box, so that the steel pallet was oriented vertically. Each steel pallet was to be separated from each concrete box. The pallet would then be lowered to the ground and removed from the area with the use of a fork lift.
The company procedure was for a worker to loosen the steel pallets from the concrete boxes using a scraper/chisel and a sledgehammer. After the pallets were loosened, a forklift would insert its forks into the box and the loosened pallet would be nudged onto the forks and lowered to the ground.
On the day of the incident, the worker had loosened the pallets on a number of concrete boxes. A fork lift driver was assisting with the final separation of the pallets from the concrete boxes; the worker and the fork lift driver were working their way down the row of concrete boxes with loosened pallets.
During the separation of one of the remaining pallets, the worker was standing in front of the next concrete box in line when its corresponding steel pallet began to fall on its own. The steel pallet caught the worker’s leg, pinning the worker to the ground. The driver used the fork lift to lift the pallet from the worker and coworkers attended to provide first aid before emergency services arrived. The worker suffered critical injuries.
The Ministry of Labour’s investigation revealed that the employer failed to take the reasonable precaution of spacing the concrete boxes adequately apart before workers commenced removal of the steel pallets, and that the employer had failed to take the reasonable precaution of completely removing each steel pallet from its concrete box before moving on to loosening adjacent boxes.
Con-Cast Pipe Inc. pleaded guilty to failing as an employer to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker, contrary to section 25(2)(h) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
This is the second time Con-Cast Pipe Inc. has been convicted for a violation of the OHSA. In 2010, the company was convicted under the same section of the OHSA and was fined $55,000.
Justice of the Peace Bruce Philips passed sentence in Guelph court on August 9, 2017 and imposed a fine of $70,000. The court also 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 law(s) in contravention,
Con-Cast Pipe Inc. was found guilty of a contravention of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act, section 25, subsection 2(h) which states,
“An employer shall,
(h) take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker.”
Questions to be asked:
- Why was there not a completed analysis of hazards dealing with this type of operation? (JHA)
- Where was the supervisor in all this?
- Was the supervisor even “competent” to do his/her job?
- Why was the worker put at risk in the first place?
- If the company was large enough, would they have an active Joint Health and Safety Committee and, if so, why was this type of hazard not identified?
- Was there a training module for this type of operation for the worker AND the forklift operator?
Yes, there were many unanswered questions. I bet they have all been answered now.
Ensure your workplace is a safe place.
Remember – In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”
‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.
Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Advanced Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.