Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’

A worker, employed by the Corporation of the City of London, Ontario, was injured when a cap on a drain pipe shot off and struck the worker, resulting in critical injuries. The employer failed to take the reasonable precaution of ensuring that the internal pressure of the drain pipeline was released before the mechanical joint end cap was removed and/or loosened.

On October 16, 2018, a crew of workers from the Water Operations Division of the City of London was instructed by their supervisor to prepare the water drain chamber located in a ravine near 517 Fanshawe Park Road. The chamber was to receive water drained out from the main water line so that a new valve could be added to the main water line the next day.

The preparation work entailed confirming that the valve connecting the six-inch drain pipeline to the main water line was closed and pumping out the ground water in the water drain chamber. Part of the task was removing a mechanical joint cap assembly installed at the end of a water line drain pipeline protruding into the chamber, so that the water in the main water line could be drained out through the drain pipeline and into the water drain chamber.

One of the workers was inside the water drain chamber attempting to remove the mechanical joint cap assembly covering the end of the drain pipeline. To do so, the worker began loosening the top two bolts of the mechanical joint cap assembly.

While doing so, the worker noticed water spraying as well as a hissing sound coming from the mechanical joint cap assembly. This indicated that pressure had built up inside the drain pipeline.

The worker stepped back slightly from the joint cap assembly. As the worker was communicating with co-workers, the pressurized joint cap assembly shot off from the drain pipeline and struck the worker, causing critical injuries

The investigation that followed determined that the Corporation of the City of London committed the offence of failing, as an employer, to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker, which is an offence under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Specifically, the employer failed to take the reasonable precaution of ensuring that the internal pressure of the drain pipeline was released before the mechanical joint end cap was removed and/or loosened. This was contrary to section 25(2)(h) of the act.

Following a guilty plea in provincial offences court in London by Justice of the Peace Kristine M. Diaz, the employer was fined $70,000; Crown Counsels Marco Galluzzo and Shantanu Roy.

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.

My opinion

The law(s) in contravention:

The city of London was found guilty of a contravention of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) section 25, subsection 2(h) which states,

“An employer shall,

(h) take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker.”

Where was the supervisor when this occurred? Were there a set of written instructions set out and discussed before the job was supposed to begin? Was a JHA, (job hazard assessment) completed before the job was to take place?

All good questions and, as always, little answers.

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.

We can also be reached at info@hrsgroup.com

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.

 

 

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