Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’

New Water Plumbing Inc., of Thornhill, was fined $100,000 for a violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act after a worker was killed.

On December 23, 2009, two workers from New Water Plumbing Inc. were in the mechanical room of a Toronto condo tower. They had taken a large exhaust fan out of its housing. As the workers were moving the fan, a light fixture they had swung out of the way swung back and hit the fan. Part of the light fixture was damaged, allowing its electrical charge to contact the fan. The worker who was holding the fan at the time was fatally electrocuted.

New Water Plumbing Inc. pleaded guilty to failing to ensure that the fan was lifted, carried or moved in a way that would not endanger a worker.

The fine was imposed by Justice of the Peace Mary Anne Ross Hendriks. In addition to the fine, the court 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:

New Water Plumbing Inc. was found guilty of violating section 45 of the Ontario ‘Industrial’ regulation 851 which states,

“Material, articles or things,

(a) Required to be lifted, carried or moved, shall be lifted, carried or moved in such a way and with such precautions and safeguards, including protective clothing, guards or other precautions as will ensure that the lifting, carrying or moving of the material, articles or things does not endanger the safety of any worker;

(b) Shall be transported, placed or stored so that the material, articles or things,

(i) Will not tip, collapse or fall, and
(ii) Can be removed or withdrawn without endangering the safety of any worker; and

(c) To be removed from a storage area, pile or rack, shall be removed in a manner that will not endanger the safety of any worker.”

How was New Water Plumbing Inc. was to know that this type of issue could happen? The section of the ACT that deals with employer’s responsibilities was to do everything reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of the worker. This type of accident was a fluke but still had to be addressed by the MOL.

My sign-off states the position of the Ontario government that “ALL accidents are preventable”. Even though New Water Plumbing was following a set of SOPs, the possibility of this accident happening was so remote that preventative action would never have been thought of. Mind you, the possible lockout and tagout of the two lines may have been suggested.

I know that hindsight is 20-20 but every accident is a learning experience and corrective action needed to ensure that it never happens again. Even with that in mind, this article was one of the hardest for me to talk about because this is one accident that was very, very difficult to predict.

Remember – In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”

HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety need including ‘Material Handling’, ‘Due Diligence’ and ‘Proper Lifting Techniques’. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.

We can also be reached at info@hrsgroup.com

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Foundation Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.

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