Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’
Precision Technologies, a division of Magna Powertrain Inc., pleaded guilty and has been fined $80,000 after a worker suffered fractures and burns in a workplace explosion.
The company produces various aluminum automotive parts at two operations located at the same Mississauga address, comprising a foundry and a computer numerical control (CNC) machining facility at 1755 Argentia Road.
On July 4, 2013, a worker who usually worked at the machining portion of the facility was asked to work at the foundry; the worker had worked in the foundry area only about a half-dozen times before. The worker was tasked with examining whether two propane-fueled torch wands were lit – a procedure known as the ‘pre-heat pump well procedure.’
For this task, wands were used to heat a pump well, a small cube-like structure facilitating the outflow of molten metal from an aluminum melter. Lit torch wands were typically placed in the pump well to prevent solidifying and build-up of molten metal that can impair the proper functioning of the pump or the melter.
The worker performed the task as it had been seen performed by other foundry workers. The worker climbed on the pump well and perched atop its surface. The top of the pump well is mostly a flat surface and it accommodates a hatch; when opened, the hatch allows for lit torch wands to heat up the inside of the pump well. The worker was wearing safety glasses and gloves but not a face shield.
While checking the wands there was an explosion. The force and heat generated by the explosion knocked the worker back and caused the worker to jump six feet to the concrete ground below. As a result of the fall the worker sustained fractures requiring surgery and burns from the explosion.
The worker had not performed the task before, had not received any related training before attempting the task, and there was no written or other procedure to refer to in order to determine a safe way to completed the assignment on the day of the incident.
Following the incident, the company developed a safe procedure for the pump well pre-heat process that includes use of a dome mirror to make flame detection easier, and also installed a step platform so that standing on top of the pump well is no longer necessary.
Precision Technologies pleaded guilty to failing to provide information, instruction and supervision to a worker on the measures and procedures to follow when performing the pump well pre-heat task, and was fined $80,000 in provincial court by Justice of the Peace John B. Farnum on March 1, 2016.
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,
Precision Technologies was found guilty of a violation of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), section 25(2)(a) which states,
“An employer shall,
- provide information, instruction and supervision to a worker to protect the health or safety of the worker.”
The operator MUST always receive a set of written instructions before engaging in any work activity on the worksite.
Here we find a very large employer, Magna Powertrain Inc., not following safety standards as required. I have to say that I was shocked to have read this because, in a past life, I had to deal with Magna and found them to be the kind of employer to set very high standards. It just goes to show that even the best companies, having the best intentions, can screw up periodically.
I still feel that section 25, subsection 1(c) of the OHSA was also violated. It states,
“An employer shall ensure that,
(c) the measures and procedures prescribed are carried out in the workplace.”
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.