Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine
The City of Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan was fined $10,900 of February 24, 2014 after pleading guilty to OH&S charges.
The City pleaded guilty to failing to ensure that a worker was protected from cave-ins or sliding material in a trench and was fined $6,000 with a $2,400 surcharge, a statement from the Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety in Regina reports. The City was also charged with failing to ensure that a trench was kept free from an accumulation of water and was fined $2,000 with a $500 surcharge.
The charges related to an inspection at a construction site in Meadow Lake on September 7, 2011, when an officer noticed a worker at the bottom of an un-shored trench.
The Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) is the law and the various sectors have separate regulations as well. Below are the four-sector regulations;
1) Construction – reg. 213/91
2) Industrial – reg. 851/90
3) Healthcare – reg. 67/93, and
4) Mining – reg. 854/90
The construction regulation 213/91, starting at section 226. has sections concerning the type of soil that is to be excavated and there has to be someone “competent” to ensure that appropriate measures are taken before anyone is to work in the excavation.
226. (1) For the purposes of this Part, soil shall be classified as Type 1, 2, 3 or 4 in accordance with the descriptions set out in this section.
(2) Type 1 soil,
(a) is hard, very dense and only able to be penetrated with difficulty by a small sharp object;
(b) has a low natural moisture content and a high degree of internal strength;
(c) has no signs of water seepage; and
(d) can be excavated only by mechanical equipment.
(3) Type 2 soil,
(a) is very stiff, dense and can be penetrated with moderate difficulty by a small sharp object;
(b) has a low to medium natural moisture content and a medium degree of internal strength; and
(c) has a damp appearance after it is excavated.
(4) Type 3 soil is,
(a) previously excavated soil; or
(b) soil that is stiff to firm or compact to loose in consistency and has one or more of the following characteristics:
(i) It exhibits signs of surface cracking.
(ii) It exhibits signs of water seepage.
(iii) If it is dry, it may run easily into a well-defined conical pile.
(iv) It has a low degree of internal strength.
(5) Type 4 soil,
(a) is soft to very soft and very loose in consistency, very sensitive and upon disturbance is significantly reduced in natural strength;
(b) runs easily or flows, unless it is completely supported before excavating procedures;
(c) has almost no internal strength;
(d) is wet or muddy; and
(e) exerts substantial fluid pressure on its supporting system.
227. (1) The type of soil in which an excavation is made shall be determined by visual and physical examination of the soil,
(a) at the walls of the excavation; and
(b) within a horizontal distance from each wall equal to the depth of the excavation measured away from the excavation.
(2) The soil in which an excavation is made shall be classified as the type described in section 226 that the soil most closely resembles.
(3) If an excavation contains more than one type of soil, the soil shall be classified as the type with the highest number as described in section 226 among the types present.
As the reader can see, the employer needed to complete a hazard assessment prior to any work being done. Grading the type of soil is a prominent part of the assessment process and any fully-trained excavator operators KNOW this and work accordingly.
One more thing. The employer has to know this and to ensure work is to be done by the regulations. Section 25 of the OHSA, subsection 1 (c) states,
“An employer shall ensure that,
(c) the measures and procedures prescribed are carried out in the workplace.”
Ignorance of the LAW is no defense!
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.