Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’
A farm owner pleaded guilty and has been fined $18,000 after a worker helping to build a bridge was killed when a concrete block slipped off a tractor and rolled down a ravine.
The incident took place on January 22, 2015, at White Meadows Farms located at 2519 Effingham Street in St. Catharines.
Workers were on a site in a wooded area of the property and attempting to place a concrete block, which weighed over 2,800 pounds, onto an existing concrete pad at the top of a ravine. This activity was part of the process of constructing a new bridge across the ravine.
Two workers were standing on the slope of the ravine to guide the concrete block into place. Murray Bering, carrying on business in partnership as White Meadows Farms, was the employer and was operating a tractor equipped with lifting forks.
The concrete block was linked to the forks of the tractor with a chain and fabric strap and the forks of the tractor were being used to lift the block. As the concrete block was being lowered, the chain around the block slipped off the forks and the block began rolling down the slope of the ravine. A worker who was below the tractor was unable to get out of the way of the block and was killed instantly.
The Ministry of Labour investigated and concluded that the employer failed to take the reasonable precaution of ensuring that a concrete block was moved in a safe manner as required by the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The defendant, Murray Bering, pleaded guilty and was fined $18,000 by Justice of the Peace Mary Shelley in St. Catharines court on August 26, 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) in contravention,
White Meadows Farm was found guilty of a violation of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) section 25, subsection 2(h) which states,
“An employer shall,
(h) take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker.”
The farming regulations in Ontario are not used very much and this type of accident had to be addressed by using sections of the Occupational health and Safety Act (OHSA) and section 25 (employer responsibilities) is used quite often. In fact, section 25 , subsection 2(h) is used more often than any other.
All employer MUST complete a hazard assessment before any work is to be done. White Meadow Farm should have been better prepared by completing the assessment. Safety controls could have been in place including proper slinging operations and a possible escape route for worker. Everything has to be planned to the smallest detail or people can get hurt.
Too late for the worker!
Please ensure that 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.