Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’
Shell Canada Limited/Shell Canada Limitée and CEDA International Corporation pleaded guilty and were fined a total of $90,000 after two workers collapsed.
In early 2013, Shell hired CEDA, an Alberta-based company that provides chemical-cleaning services to industrial facilities, to clean heat exchanger tubes at Shell’s Sarnia Manufacturing Centre, an oil refinery in Corunna, Ont.
On April 26, 2013, CEDA workers were at the refinery, cleaning two tubes. The tubes were placed into a vat, which was then filled with a sulfuric acid solution. Just after the acid had been added, the workers’ hydrogen sulphide (H2S) monitors began sounding. They also noticed a strong smell emanating from the vat.
Two CEDA employees closest to the vat helped each other get to a safe distance. Both workers suffered dizziness, disorientation and briefly collapsed. One of the workers reportedly briefly lost consciousness. A third CEDA employee was able to leave the area. All three workers were taken to hospital and released the same day.
A Ministry of Labour investigation found that the workers were exposed to H2S gas. The scales on the tubes contained iron sulfide. When the iron sulfide came into contact with the sulfuric acid solution, a chemical reaction led to the release of H2S gas into the atmosphere.
The investigation found that although the workers were wearing personal monitors to warn of any potential release, they were not wearing any personal protective equipment capable of protecting them from the effects of exposure to H2S gas. The workers were also not informed they might be exposed to H2S gas as a result of cleaning the tubes in an acid bath.
Shell Canada Limited/Shell Canada Limitée pleaded guilty to failing as an employer to provide information, instruction and supervision to a worker to protect the health and safety of the worker. CEDA International Corporation pleaded guilty to failing as an employer to acquaint a worker, or a person in authority over a worker, with the hazard of hydrogen sulphide.
Shell Canada Limited/Shell Canada Limitée was fined $40,000 by Justice of the Peace Anna Marie Hampson in Sarnia court on April 20, 2015. CEDA International Corporation was fined $50,000 on that same day. 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) violated,
Shell Canada Limited/Shell Canada Limitée was found guilty of a violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, (OHSA) section 25, subsection (2)(a) which states,
“An employer shall,
(a) provide information, instruction and supervision to a worker to protect the health or safety of the worker.”
CEDA International Corporation was found guilty of a violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, (OHSA) section 25, subsection (2)(d) which states,
“An employer shall,
“acquaint a worker or a person in authority over a worker with any hazard in the work and in the handling, storage, use, disposal and transport of any article, device, equipment or a biological, chemical or physical agent.”
It has been a long time since I have written about section 25, 2(d) being violated. (2011) In other words, most employers know their responsibilities when it comes to handling or dealing with dangerous gases or chemicals.
I also feel that $90,000 fine to Shell was a drop in the hat as far as being a deterrent. I bet the legal fees came to more than that!
Ensure your workplace is a safe place. A sound safety culture does not have to be cost prohibitive. Incorporate safety into every aspect of the business!
Remember – In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”
‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.
Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Advanced Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.