Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine
A Toronto company that provides concrete for the construction industry was fined $130,000 on July 9, 2019 over a worker fatality.
On January 16, 2017, the worker was operating a concrete pump owned by Torrent Shotcrete Canada Ltd. at a residential building in Toronto that was under construction. At the end of the pumping period, the hopper had to be cleaned so that residual concrete would not harden.
The worker, who was cleaning out the hopper using a power chisel, fell into the hopper as the concrete auger was running. There was no eyewitness to the incident, and it was not known how the worker fell into the hopper.
According to Ontario’s Ministry of Labour (MOL), on the top of the hopper was a grate that prevented access to the auger. The hopper was equipped with a sensor to stop the movement of the auger upon the opening of the grate. The sensor would allow power to the auger as long as it was in contact with a metal piece that was attached to the grate.
A Ministry investigation found that the sensor on the hopper in question had been rendered inoperative by a metal washer that had been taped onto it, which would cause the sensor to allow power to the auger even when the grate was open. The wiring for the sensor had also been had also been altered to falsely indicate that the safety grate was closed, allowing uninterrupted power to the auger when the grate was open, even though the sensor not been disabled by the taped washer.
The company pleaded guilty to failing to ensure a grate sensor on a concrete hopper was not rendered inoperative.
The law(s) in contravention
Torrent Concrete was found guilty of a contravention of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) section 25, subsection 1(b) which states,
“An employer shall ensure that,
(b) the equipment, materials and protective devices provided by the employer are maintained in good condition.”
After reading this report, I was wondering why other charges could not have been laid. In fact, I was wondering why the Canadian Criminal Code, section 217.1 was not used as well. This by-pass operation certainly put lives at risk and the employer needed much more of an incentive to ensure worker safety.
This was a very real tragedy that should not have happened.
Time/money over safety. Just another tragic day for workers.
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Remember – In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”
‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.
Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Advanced Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.