Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’
The Corporation of the Village of Point Edward was fined $75,000 today for a violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act after a worker was killed.
On January 30, 2010, members of the village’s paid volunteer fire department were participating in ice water rescue training. After doing swimming and floating exercises, the workers were instructed to swim out to a moving sheet of ice, climb it, and ride it down the lake. Some of them could not climb the ice floe and attempted to swim back to shore. One worker, unable to climb onto shore, was pushed by the ice floe under its surface. The worker was trapped under the ice floe for about four minutes. The worker was removed but died due to being trapped in the cold water.
A Ministry of Labour investigation determined that although there was rescue equipment in one of the fire trucks parked on shore during the exercise, there was no equipment readily available to pull the worker onto shore.
The Corporation of the Village of Point Edward pleaded guilty as an employer to failing to take the reasonable precaution of ensuring that adequate rescue equipment was available for the ice water rescue training exercise.
A related charge against an individual is still before the courts and is scheduled for a trial in May.
The fine was imposed by Justice Deborah Austin. In addition to the fine, 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 law(s) broken,
The Corporation of the Village of Point Edward was found guilty of violating section 25, subsection 2(h) of the OHSA which states,
“The employer shall take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of the worker.”
Here we go again. Section 25, subsection 2(h) being used to discipline a company or a corporation! Many of the blog posts on this site contain this particular section of the Occupational Health and Safety Act for disciplinary purposes.
Almost every rural area has access to a volunteer firefighter association. Many of the town’s people are part of the association or know someone who is. It is an important part of the rescue system outside the urban areas and safety training is just as necessary and important as that which is received by the professional.
I have a concern. I wonder if the fire department had a health and safety committee. If they did, why did they not recognize this as a possible hazard? If they do not have a committee, then did they have a health and safety representative? Again, these are answers required for another day. Today, we need to recognize that hazards are possible and control measures need to be in place.
Ensure that your workplace is a safe place.
Remember – In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”
‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.
Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Foundation Level
VP & Senior Trainer