Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine

Three employees of Dig Safe Inc. were injured, one fatally, while digging holes for hydro poles in the south end of Ottawa.

At 3:00pm on March 22, 2012, the workers were using a vacuum truck to clean out an augured hole when a piece of equipment came into contact with an overhead electrical wire. The worker holding the vacuum system was seriously injured notes a statement from Hydro Ottawa, which had sub-contracted Greely Construction, of which Dig Safe is a subsidiary. The two other workers who ran in to provide assistance were also injured.

All three employees were transported to hospital, but the worker who had been using the vacuum system later died, confirms Claudia Lemieux, a spokesperson for Hydro Ottawa. The remaining workers have been released from hospital.

The MOL ordered Hydro Ottawa to stop using the vacuum truck until the unit is determined to be mechanically safe and fit for work, and further required that no similar work be done until procedures are reviewed.

In addition, Greely Construction and Dig Safe have been directed to submit training and safety records, says MOL spokesperson William Lin.

My opinion

Every sector, be it ‘Industrial’, ‘Healthcare’, ‘Mining’ or ‘Construction’, includes a section call MSAD. (Minimum Safe Approach Distance) It describes the safe distance from high voltage lines when working around them. Under OHSA competency standards, having the knowledge of existing or potential hazards is crucial in the protection of the worker.

How long is it going to take before all employees follow the guidelines listed in MSAD and protect their workers? Where was their supervisor? Was there a tailgate meeting prior to the work being done? Have they completed work like this before? All valid questions that were needed to be asked and answered before any work was to be started.

Ensure your workplace is a safe place. Look for all potential hazards on any jobsite and place controls to protect the workers. THAT is the law!

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’, ‘Electrical Safety Awareness’ 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

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

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