Lavigne Tire Sales Limited, a retailer and installer of tires in Burlington, was fined $70,000 on September 9, 2009, for a violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) after a worker was critically injured. Supervisor Dave Montour was fined $7,500 in relation to the same incident.
On April 20, 2007, a mechanic was using a tire changing machine to install a tire on a rim. This involved expanding the tire with air until it popped into a groove on the rim. Partway through the installation, the tire exploded. It struck the worker on the head and upper body, causing serious injuries to the head, upper body, jaw and wrist.
A Ministry of Labour investigation found that the air pressure pumped though the tire changing machine during the installation far exceeded the air pressure recommended by both the machine’s and the tire’s manufacturers.
Lavigne Tire Sales pleaded guilty under the OHSA to failing, as an employer, to ensure the manufacturer’s instructions were followed when installing and inflating a tire on a rim. Dave Montour pleaded guilty to failing, as a supervisor, to ensure the same.
The fines were imposed by Justice of the Peace Jerry Woloschuk. In addition to the fines, 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 two sections that the company and supervisor were charged and convicted under are worded exactly the same.
Section 25, (2h) states,
“The employer shall take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of the worker.”
Section 27, (2c) states,
“The supervisor shall take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of the worker.”
The MOL felt the company and the supervisor needed to make sure their employees followed the manufacturer’s safe handling practices. The supervisor needs to be competent, as defined by the act and the employer needs to make sure that their supervisors receive training towards competency.
Section 25, (2c) states,
“When appointing a supervisor, the employer must appoint a competent person.”
What is a competent person as defined by the ACT?
A Competent person means a person who,
a) Is qualified because of knowledge, training, and experience to organize the work and its performance
b) Is familiar with the ACT and the regulations that apply to the work, and
c) Has knowledge of any potential or actual danger to health or safety in the workplace
The key word in all this is training. Gone are the days where you hire your brother-in-law and make him a supervisor. The new age supervisor needs better training and have the full understanding of the law. That includes the understanding that the health and welfare of their employees are their responsibility and they can be held liable.
In this case, the supervisor needed to know the proper specifications for the tire inflation machine and double his efforts to ensure that his employees follow the manufacturer’s instructions. There should have been written work instructions highly visible near the machine for operators to review. The training and proper orientation of any NEW employee would include following the manufacturer’s safe handling procedures.
This accident was just waiting to happen. To be called a critical injury there must have been a susbstantial loss of blood, and/or the operator might have been knocked out, and/or a broken leg or arm and/or a loss of sight in one eye.
Remember, training is important to the supervisor as well. Maybe even more so.
Remember — In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”
‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.
Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Foundation Level
VP & Senior Trainer