Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’
A worker, employed by Torrent Shotcrete Canada Ltd., was killed after falling into the hopper of a concrete pumper.
The application of shotcrete involves the pumping of concrete from a hopper through a pressurised hose for the coverage of surfaces. At the time of the incident, shotcrete was being applied to the excavated walls of the construction project.
On January 16, 2017, a Torrent Shotcrete worker was operating a concrete pump that was owned by Torrent Shotcrete. At the end of any given pumping period, it was necessary to clean the hopper so that residual concrete would not harden.
The worker was in the process of cleaning out the hopper at the end of the work day using a power chisel. The worker fell into the hopper with the concrete auger running and was killed. There was no eyewitness to the incident and it is unknown how the worker fell into the hopper.
On the top of the involved hopper was a grate that prevented access to the auger. The hopper was equipped by the manufacturer with a sensor that would 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.
Investigation by the Ministry of Labour revealed 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. It had the same effect as the contact of the sensor with the grate when the grate was closed.
Investigation further revealed that wiring for the sensor had been altered so as to falsely indicate that the safety grate was closed, thereby allowing uninterrupted power to the auger when the grate was open, even had the sensor not been disabled by the taped washer.
Torrent Shotcrete pleaded guilty to failing as an employer to comply with section 25(1)(b) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act by failing to ensure that a grate sensor on a concrete hopper was not rendered inoperative.
Following a guilty plea, on July 09, 2019, the company was fined $130,000 by Justice of the Peace Rosanne Giulietti in provincial court in Toronto; Crown Counsel Wes Wilson.
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:
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.”
Simple isn’t it? Ensuring that all equipment by the employer MUST always be in good working order. I guess Torrent did not receive the memo. Mind you, someone was allowed to bypass the safety grate so the fine seemed appropriate in this instance. Torrent Concrete should have known better.
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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Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Advanced Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.