Excerpt from the Government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’
Toronto Hydro-Electric System Limited, operating as Toronto Hydro, was fined $80,000 in July, 2010 for a violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act that caused injuries to two workers.
On January 29, 2009, workers were cutting and splicing underground cables at Ossington Ave. and Dupont St. in Toronto. In an underground chamber at the site, a worker cut into a live high-voltage cable. This caused an electrical flash. The worker suffered first and second degree burns. Another worker in the chamber suffered flash burns.
A Ministry of Labour investigation found that the worker who cut the live cable thought it had been de-energized. The worker also thought the cable had been “speared” to confirm it was de-energized. Spearing is the final step before cutting and splicing a high-voltage underground cable. A spearing tool has a long, grounded blade that cuts through a cable’s conductors. If a cable is energized, spearing it will short out its conductors. On January 29, 2009, the live cable had not been speared before workers cut into it. This is contrary to Rule UG601(5) of the Toronto Hydro Rule Book.
Toronto Hydro-Electric System Limited pleaded guilty to failing to take the reasonable precaution of complying with Rule UG601(5) of the Toronto Hydro Rule Book to prevent hazards to workers from energized electrical equipment, installations and conductors.
The fine was imposed by Justice of the Peace Tina Wassenaar. 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,
Toronto Hydro was found guilty of violating section 183 of the Ontario ‘Construction’ regulation 213/91 which states,
“Every reasonable precaution shall be taken to prevent hazards to workers from energized electrical equipment, installations and conductors.”
I know that Toronto Hydro has different safety rules to adhere to but that does not allow them to forget about them and, therefore, the safety of their workers.
Any worker needs to have their safety looked after as a prerequisite for a job. No one asks for danger pay unless they understand that their bosses have made the work and work area MORE hazardous instead of less hazardous. All employers need to make sure that safe work practices are developed and, more importantly, enforced by middle and upper management.
No utility can circumvent the OHSA and no utility has the right to put their workers in danger. The scenario listed above would have been eliminated if the Toronto Hydro management enforced the safety rules that govern their work area. If they do not know the safety rules then it is up to them to seek them out and enforce them.
Remember — In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”
‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.
Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Foundation Level
VP & Senior Trainer