Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’
A Mississauga-based scaffolding company pleaded guilty and has been fined $85,000 after a worker was permanently injured in a fall from a faulty scaffold.
The company, Echaufauds Plus (Laval) Inc., operating as Action Scaffold Services, is a supplier, erector and dismantler of scaffolds at construction projects, with its Ontario head office located at 7151 Fir Tree Drive in Mississauga.
Action Scaffold had been retained to supply scaffolds at a construction project which involved upgrades to the Kitchener Wastewater Treatment Plant at 368 Mill Park Drive in Kitchener.
On May 27, 2015, an Action Scaffold crew was dismantling a scaffold that had previously been erected inside the primary digester tank at the wastewater plant. That morning, a sawn lumber plank of the scaffold snapped and broke, and a worker fell about seven metres to the floor of the tank.
As a result of the fall, the worker suffered permanent injuries and has not returned to work.
An investigation by a Ministry of Labour inspector found that the sawn lumber plank on which the worker was standing showed signs of rot and had cracks, some of which spanned almost the full length of the plank. Section 135(2) of Ontario Regulation 213/91 (the Construction Projects Regulation) states that a work platform made of sawn lumber planks shall have planks of Number 1 grade spruce that do not have any defect affecting their load-carrying capacity.
Action Scaffold pleaded guilty to failing as an employer to ensure that measures and procedures prescribed by law were carried out on the project, and was fined $85,000 by Justice of the Peace Michael A. Cuthbertson in Kitchener court on January 24, 2017.
The court also 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,
Echaufauds Plus (Laval) Inc., operating as Action Scaffold, was found guilty of a violation of the Ontario ‘Construction’ sector regulation 213/91, section 135, subsection 2 which states,
“A scaffold platform or other work platform made of sawn lumber planks shall have planks of number 1 grade spruce that do not have any defect affecting their load-carrying capacity and,
(a) that bear a legible grade identification stamp or are permanently identified as being number 1 grade spruce;
(b) that are at least forty-eight millimetres thick by 248 millimetres wide;
(c) that are arranged so that their span does not exceed 2.1 metres;
(d) that overhang their supports by not less than 150 millimetres and not more than 300 millimetres; and
(e) that are cleated or otherwise secured against slipping.”
Echaufauds Plus (Laval) Inc. was also found guilty of a violation of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) section 25, subsection 1(c) which states,
“An employer shall ensure that,
(c) the measures and procedures prescribed are carried out in the workplace.”
There was no need for this to happen if a daily inspection of the erected scaffold was completed before each work shift.
Where was the supervisor in this case? Was he/she “Competent”? How long was the plank there and was there outside influences (e.g. Dampness) affecting the load-bearing qualities of the plank?
All these questions, and more, should have been asked and answered before the dismantling of the scaffolding was to take place. The employer may feel this was bad luck but all that could have been avoided if a little care and “Due Diligence” took place.
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.