Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’
A Woodstock employer has pleaded guilty and has been fined $70,000 after a worker suffered chemical burns.
The employer, Bridgestone Canada Inc. operating as Firestone Textiles Company, owns and operates a plant in Woodstock, where it manufactures textile products.
The incident took place on September 14, 2015, at the company’s 1200 Dundas Street, Woodstock plant. A technician was attempting to dispense sulfuric acid to be used in the lab for conducting tests. The sulfuric acid was contained in a 45-gallon drum equipped with an electric pump, hose and nozzle to transfer the acid into the desired container. The worker was attempting to fill a two-litre plastic bottle in this way, when the hose nozzle attached to the bottle detached under pressure. The worker suffered minor chemical burns.
The worker was exposed to the hazard of injury from contact of skin with acid, a noxious liquid, and was not wearing apparel sufficient to protect from injury. The court found that Bridgestone failed as an employer to ensure that the measures and procedures prescribed by the regulation were carried out at the workplace.
The exposure contravention is covered in the Industrial sector regulation 851/90 which is contrary to the Occupational Health and Safety Act’s section 25(1)(c) and section 66(1).
Justice of the Peace Michael A. Cuthbertson imposed a fine of $70,000 in Woodstock court on September 29, 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
Bridgestone Canada was found guilty of a contravention of the ‘Industrial’ sector regulation 851/90, section 84 which states,
“A worker exposed to the hazard of injury from contact of the worker’s skin with,
(a) a noxious gas, liquid, fume or dust;
(b) a sharp or jagged object which may puncture, cut or abrade the worker’s skin;
(c) a hot object, hot liquid or molten metal; or
(d) radiant heat,
shall be protected by,
(e) wearing apparel sufficient to protect the worker from injury; or
(f) a shield, screen or similar barrier, appropriate in the circumstances.”
This was in direct 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.”
As well, section 66 subsection (1) was also in contravention. It states,
“Every person who contravenes or fails to comply with,
(a) a provision of this Act or the regulations;
(b) an order or requirement of an inspector or a Director; or
(c) an order of the Minister,
is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine of not more than $100,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than twelve months, or to both.”
I felt that section 66, subsection 2 would have been the correct choice. As the reader can see, section 1 is about an individual. Section 2 covers the company. It states,
(2) “If a corporation is convicted of an offence under subsection (1), the maximum fine that may be imposed upon the corporation is $1,500,000 and not as provided therein.”
It would be interesting to find out if this is a misprint.
Many things could have been used to prevent this type of accident/incident. WHMIS, (Workplace Hazardous Material Information System) discusses SDSs (Safety Data Sheets) which contain information on the proper handling and storage of the chemical. This would include PPE (personal protective equipment) that would be part of the worker safety.
I cannot believe that PPE would have been mandatory when dealing with an acid.
I bet it is now!
HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259 We can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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.