Blog Post #662 – Vomar Industries/Tank Traders Fined after Propane Fire in Smithville

Blog Post #662 – Vomar Industries/Tank Traders Fined after Propane Fire in Smithville

Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’

Vomar Industries Inc. of LaSalle, Manitoba, operating as Tank Traders, has pleaded guilty and fined a total of $55,000 for failing to protect workers at a workplace in Ontario and for improperly handling propane.

The company operated a propane filling and distribution centre at 3089 Regional Road 12 in Smithville. Licensing of such facilities falls under the jurisdiction of the Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA).

On April 1, 2010 a fire occurred on the property. About 30,000 propane tanks and three trucks were damaged in the fire. No one was injured as a result of the incident, although about 30 cylinders were projected as much as 280 feet.

Investigation revealed that Vomar filled and stored leaking, damaged and corroded cylinders and that Vomar’s cylinder-filling carousel was not operating properly and would routinely overfill propane cylinders. Rather than immediately evacuating these overfilled cylinders as required, Vomar employees stored them in the southeast corner of the facility, where the fire started. Employees were present when the fire began and could have been injured.

At St. Catharines provincial court on March 26, 2014, Vomar pleaded guilty to failing to take the reasonable precaution of ensuring that propane cylinders at a workplace were stored in a manner that did not endanger a worker, and received a fine of $25,000. The company also pleaded guilty to a count under laws governing propane storage and handling for filling propane cylinders that were damaged, leaking or corroded, and received a fine of $30,000.

The company no longer performs propane filling at the Smithville location.

The $55,000 fine was imposed by Justice Peter H. Wilkie.

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:

Vomar Industries was found guilty of a contravention of section 25, subsection 2 (h) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) which states,

“The employer shall,

Do everything reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of the worker.”

Vomar was also found guilty of a contravention of section 37 of the Technical Standards and Safety Act which states,

“Every person who, (a) contravenes or fails to comply with any provision of this Act, the regulations or a Minister’s order; (b) knowingly makes a false statement or furnishes false information under this Act, the regulations or a Minister’s order; (c) contravenes or fails to comply with a term or condition of an authorization; (d) contravenes or fails to comply with an order or requirement of a director or an inspector, or obstructs an inspector, is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine of not more than $50,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than one year, or to both, or, if the person is a body corporate, to a fine of not more than $1,000,000.”

As a certified instructor through the Canadian Propane Association (CPA) for ‘Propane Filling’ as well as ‘Propane Heaters and Torches’, I have found that many companies do not understand proper inspection, storage and handling of propane tanks. Yes, we all know about the 10 year rule for propane tank replacement but what about actual training requirements?

Vomar certainly did not have their people trained and the management team was unaware of the potential safety risks they were putting into.

Please ensure that the workforce, supervision and management are competent to carry out their duties. This is a major responsibility of management.

Section 25, subsection 2 (c) of the OHSA states that the employer, when appointing a supervisor, appoint a competent person.” In this case, Vomar could easily have been found guilty of so much more.

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’, ‘Propane Handling and Exchange’, Propane Heaters and Torches’, ‘Propane Filling’ 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.

Dan
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1 Comments

  1. Channing

    I will return soon!