Blog Post #860 – Aldershot Greenhouses Fined $100,000 After Worker Killed in Fall from Ladder

Blog Post #860 – Aldershot Greenhouses Fined $100,000 After Worker Killed in Fall from Ladder

Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’

Aldershot Greenhouses Ltd. pleaded guilty and has been fined $100,000 after a worker at a greenhouse operation died after falling from a ladder.

The incident took place at the company’s facility at 347 5th Concession Road East in Waterdown on January 8, 2015. A worker was performing the task of watering bales of potting soil.

Each bale is about eight feet tall, wrapped in plastic and rests on a skid. To water a bale, a worker must reach the top of the bale using an eight-foot-tall ladder, install a homemade watering wand into the top of the bale and turn on a timed, metered water pump. Each bale is watered with about 100 gallons of water. When watering is completed, the worker climbs a ladder to reach the top of the bale, removes the water wand, climbs back down, moves the ladder to the next bale and repeats the process.

On the date in question, a worker was in the process of switching the wand from one bale to another. While reaching over from the first bale to the next, the worker mis-stepped on a ladder rung, lost balance and fell to the floor. The worker suffered head injuries and died in hospital several weeks later.

Aldershot Greenhouses Ltd. pleaded guilty to failing to provide information, instruction and supervision to a worker on how to safely water bales, and was fined $100,000 in provincial court by Justice of the Peace Stephen Lancaster on February 25, 2016 in Hamilton court.

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) contravened,

Aldershot Greenhouses Ltd. was found guilty of a violation of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) section 25, subsection 2 (a) which states,

“An employer shall,

  • provide information, instruction and supervision to a worker to protect the health or safety of the worker.”

My opinion,

There is a great need for the employer to ensure that a completed hazard assessment always precedes the actual work. Here we find another employer fully unaware of this important fact. The accident did not need to have happened if precautions were to take place.

The following questions should have been asked:

  • Why did an employee need to run up and down ladders?
  • Was there an easier and safer way to do the work?
  • Was an inspection checklist completed on the ladder prior to the usage?
  • Was the supervisor a “Competent” person to properly organize the work?
  • Was the employer aware of any information about the employee that may not have allowed him or her to complete the task safely?

The employer MUST be aware of all the associated hazards, potential or otherwise, to properly protect their employees.

THAT is the Law!

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.