Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’
Two workers were injured when a ledge of rock fell on them. The workers were employed by CGC Inc. of Mississauga, Ontario, a company that markets, manufactures and distributes gypsum products, including interior finishing materials and building materials. The company’s underground mine in Hagersville, Ontario.
The main cause of the accident was that the ground conditions were not adequately inspected at the workplace prior to start of work.
CGC operates one underground mine, owns two inactive quarries, five plants and several customer distribution and customer service centres across Canada. The workplace at 55 3rd Line, Hagersville, Ontario consists of a gypsum mill, an industrial board plant, a joint compound production operation and an underground mine.
On April 4, 2019, a loading crew of three workers were working in a part of the underground mine. One worker asked another worker to assist in scaling a ledge under unsupported ground. ‘Scaling’ describes the striking, prying and removing of loose rock from the ground (i.e. roof), faces and pillars, in this case, by using four-foot steel scaling bars. Scaling bars are also used to ‘sound’ by knocking and tapping the ground to check for loose rock.
While scaling the ledge, a small two-inch by three-foot piece of dolomitic limestone fell. However, the workers sounded the area and continued to scale. As they did so, the ledge fell and ‘unravelling’ occurred, causing more of the ground and rock than expected to fall down and knock both workers to the floor, with one being pinned down and suffering serious injuries. The total weight of the various pieces that fell weighed about 2,400 pounds.
During initial rescue efforts, another piece of rock fell nearby.
During the investigation by the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development, a ministry engineer determined that the fall of ground was a gravity-driven failure caused by disturbance of the unsupported rock through the striking and prying of the rock with the scaling bars. The ministry’s inspector determined that the ground conditions were not adequately inspected at the workplace prior to work being commenced, and that the unsafe ground conditions on the site were therefore not identified or rectified by the workers.
CGC had a pre-job safety analysis system, but on the day of the incident, the hazardous ground conditions in Room 1 were not accurately or specifically documented and thus, corrective action had not been taken.
Following a guilty plea in provincial offences court in Cayuga, CGC Inc. was fined $110,000 by Judge Robert Gee; Crown Counsel Alessandra Hollands.
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:
CGC Inc. was found guilty of a contravention of the Ontario Mining and Mining Plant sector regulation 854/90, section 66, subsection 1 which states,
“Before work is begun in a workplace in an underground mine, the ground conditions of the workplace shall be examined for dangers and hazards and, if required, made safe.”
This is contrary to 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.”
Enough said! The company did not recognize the hazard and an accident occurred. I wonder where the supervisor in all this? Was someone, not deemed competent, given the responsibility to complete an inaccurate assessment? Hmm….
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Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Advanced Level
CEO & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.