Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’
At the Detour Lake Gold mine, about 185 km northeast of Cochrane, Ontario, on August 24, 2014, A worker hauling rocks in a dump truck being operated in reverse was critically injured when the truck fell and flipped over on its roof. There was no berm (protective barrier) to support the truck and the road gave way beneath the truck.
A worker was instructed to haul rock over to the area at the top of a tailings dam. The time was 4 a.m. and heavy fog had rolled in, causing severely reduced visibility.
There was no berm (a protective barrier) on the side of the road where the rock was to be dumped. The rock being hauled was to be used by a bulldozer operator to widen the ramp and road and build a berm.
The worker reversed to the area where the rocks were to be dropped; the truck was too close to the edge of a very narrow section of the road, where there was no berm, and the road gave way beneath the truck, which fell and flipped over onto its roof.
The worker received critical injuries.
Berms provide both a physical barrier and a physical and visual guide for the equipment operators to prevent events such as this one.
The incident constituted an offence under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, section 25(2)(h): failing as an employer to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker.
Following a trial, Justice of the Peace L.M. Scully fined Detour Gold Corporation $70,000 for failing to take the reasonable precaution of providing a suitable protective barrier along the open side of a haulage road. Decision rendered at Cochrane Town Hall, 171 Fourth Avenue, Cochrane; Crown Counsel Indira Stewart.
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
“An employer shall,
(h) take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker.”
- Was it reasonable for a berm to be installed? Yes!
- Was in reasonable for the employer to complete a JHA prior to the job being initiated? Yes!
- Was the supervisor knowledgeable to ensure safety? Probably not!
- Would a berm be cheaper than the fine? Probably!
The costs to the injured worker could stretch into the millions. There was not information about the accident and the extent of the injuries but long-term care can go into the millions. If the accident needed complicated surgery for, say head trauma, the costs could easily escalate.
By the way, Detour had another death earlier. A worker died because of cyanide poisoning. That particular fine was $1,500,000.
I think the Ministry of Labour (MOL) needs to spend more time there.
Ensure your workplace is a safe place.
Remember – In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”
HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs including ‘Due Diligence’ and ‘Standard Operating Procedures’. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.
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‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.
Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Advanced Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.