Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’
R.M. Belanger Limited pleaded guilty and was fined $125,000, and a supervisor pleaded guilty and was fined $5,000 after a worker was injured.
On November 3, 2016, a R.M. Belanger crew was excavating a trench in order to access underground pipes at 935 Ramsey Lake Road in Greater Sudbury. A worker entered the excavation to do cleanup work and was in the trench when one of the walls collapsed, causing the worker to be partially buried and suffer leg injuries.
A Ministry of Labour investigation determined that the walls of the trench had not been properly sloped as required by section 234 of the Ontario ‘Construction’ regulation 213/91. This was in violation of section 25(1)(c) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The investigation also found that the site supervisor had not ensured that a worker worked with protective devices, measures and procedures in place as required by section 27(1)(a) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
R.M. Belanger Limited pleaded guilty and was fined $125,000, and a supervisor pleaded guilty and was fined $5,000. The fines were imposed by Justice of the Peace Ruby Beck. 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:
R.M. Belanger Limited was found guilty of a contravention of the Ontario ‘Construction’ regulation 213/91, section 234 which states,
“(1) The walls of an excavation shall be supported by a support system that complies with sections 235, 236, 237, 238, 239 and 241.
(2) Subsection (1) does not apply with respect to an excavation,
(a) that is less than 1.2 metres deep;
(b) that no worker is required to enter;
(c) that is not a trench and with respect to which no worker is required to be closer to a wall than the height of the wall;
(d) that is cut in sound and stable rock;
(e) made in Type 1 or Type 2 soil and whose walls are sloped to 1.2 metres or less from its bottom with a slope having a minimum gradient of one vertical to one horizontal;
(f) made in Type 3 soil and whose walls are sloped from its bottom with a slope having a minimum gradient of one vertical to one horizontal;
(g) made in Type 4 soil and whose walls are sloped from its bottom with a slope having a minimum gradient of one vertical to three horizontal; or
(h) that is not a trench and is not made in Type 4 soil and with respect to which a professional engineer has given a written opinion that the walls of the excavation are sufficiently stable that no worker will be endangered if no support system is used.
(3) The opinion in clause (2) (h) shall include details of,
(a) the specific project and the location thereon;
(b) any specific condition for which the opinion applies; and
(c) the frequency of inspections.
(4) The constructor shall keep on the project a copy of every opinion given by a professional engineer for the purpose of clause (2) (h) while the project is in progress.
(5) The professional engineer who gives an opinion described in clause (2) (h), or a competent worker designated by him or her, shall inspect the excavation to which the opinion relates as frequently as the opinion specifies.”
R.M. Belanger Limited was also found guilty of a contravention 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.”
Finally, the supervisor in this case, was found guilty of a contravention of the OHSA, section 27, subsection 1(a) which states,
“A supervisor shall ensure that a worker,
(a) works in the manner and with the protective devices, measures and procedures required by this Act and the regulations.”
There were too many mistakes made here. Trenching is an inherent part of the construction industry and the need to study the regulations is crucial. There are 4 soil types and a competent person/worker needs to make a decision and place hazard controls in place to protect workers. That is the law.
The supervisor better understand that he/she could be subject to a fine of up to $100,000 for each infraction.
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.