Blog Post #731 – Swing N Scaff Inc., Company Director Fined Total of $400,000 in Deaths of Four Workers

Blog Post #731 – Swing N Scaff Inc., Company Director Fined Total of $400,000 in Deaths of Four Workers

Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’

Swing N Scaff Inc., the Ottawa-based company that supplied the swing stage platform that collapsed on December 24, 2009, resulting in the deaths of four workers and significant injuries to another, has been fined $350,000 in Old City Hall court. A company director, Patrick Deschamps, has been fined $50,000.

The workers were employed by Metron Construction Corporation of Toronto and were conducting balcony restoration on an apartment building at 2757 Kipling Avenue in Toronto. Swing N Scaff Inc. manufactured and supplied the swing stage that collapsed.

At least six workers were on a swing stage suspended about 13 floors above the ground when the modular 40-foot swing stage broke apart in the middle and collapsed. After forensic examination of the swing stage, Ministry of Labour investigators found it was not fit for its intended use as fabricated. In particular, the welds on the platform were inadequate.

Swing N Scaff Inc. pleaded guilty to failing to ensure that a suspended platform and/or a component supplied to Metron Construction Corporation was in good condition, and was fined $350,000.

Patrick Deschamps pleaded guilty to failing to take all reasonable care to ensure a suspended platform was in good condition and that a platform weighing more than 525 kilograms was designed by a professional engineer in accordance with good engineering practice. He was fined $25,000 for each count for a total fine of $50,000.

The fine was imposed by Judge Mara B. Greene. 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:

Swing N Scaff Inc. was found guilty of a a contravention of section 134, subsection (1) of the Ontario ‘Construction’ regulation 213/91 which states,

134. (1) “Every scaffold platform and other work platform shall be designed, constructed and maintained to support or resist, without exceeding the allowable unit stresses for the materials of which it is constructed,

(a) All loads and forces to which it is likely to be subjected; and
(b) At least 2.4 kilonewtons per square metre.”

Swing N Scaff Inc. was also found guilty of a contravention of the entire section 139 of the Ontario ‘Construction’ regulation 213/91 which states,

139. (1) “Every suspended scaffold that consists of more than one platform and every suspended platform that, together with its components, weighs more than 525 kilograms shall meet the requirements of this section.
(2) A professional engineer shall design a suspended scaffold or suspended platform in accordance with good engineering practice.
(3) There shall be design drawings for a suspended scaffold or suspended platform that,
(a) Set out the size and specification of all components of the scaffold or platform including the type and grade of all materials to be used;
(b) State the maximum live load of the scaffold or platform; and
(c) State that, in the opinion of the professional engineer who designed the scaffold or platform, the design meets the requirements of this section.
(4) A suspended scaffold or suspended platform shall be erected in accordance with the design drawings.
(5) Before a suspended scaffold or suspended platform is used, a professional engineer shall inspect it and state in writing that it has been erected in accordance with the design drawings.
(6) No person shall use a suspended scaffold or suspended platform until the statement required by subsection (5) has been given.
(7) The constructor shall keep a copy of the design drawings and the statement required by subsection (5) on a project while the suspended scaffold or suspended platform is on the project.
(8) If it is stacked or tiered a suspended platform or suspended scaffold shall have at least two independent means of support which shall be so arranged that the failure of one support will not result in the failure of the suspended platform or suspended scaffold.”

And finally,

Swing N Scaff Inc. was found guilty of a violation of section 31, subsection (1) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) which states,

31. (1) “Every person who supplies any machine, device, tool or equipment under any rental, leasing or similar arrangement for use in or about a workplace shall ensure,

(a) That the machine, device, tool or equipment is in good condition;
(b) That the machine, device, tool or equipment complies with this Act and the regulations; and
(c) If it is the person’s responsibility under the rental, leasing or similar arrangement to do so, that the machine, device, tool or equipment is maintained in good condition.”

This was the second part to the nasty accident that took place on December 24, 2009. 4 people lost their lives and one poor person actually survived in a 13 story swing stage collapse accident and had life altering injuries. (See Metron accident)

The construction company, Metron, was dealt with earlier but this part of the proceedings had to be delayed because of the engineering concerns that would have taken much longer to complete.

This accident caused the majors changes in the workplace and especially the ‘Construction’ in particular. The ‘Working at Heights’ training is a direct result of this accident as well as upgraded basic training for workers and supervisors. Please ensure that you and your people have taken the training and apply the knowledge. I see so many areas where this has not been the case including my own subdivision under construction. I had to make a call myself to the MOL because of many blatant examples of safety violations by the site.

Since the call, the changes include,

1) A new site safety officer was hired,
2) 14 Type II ladders were removed from the site;
3) PPE is now worn on the site, including hard hats; (don’t laugh) and
4) Re-built scaffolding is now subject to be used and constructed as per the manufacturer. (see section 93 of the reg. 213/91)

I tried to give the information to the site supervisor who chose to ignore the issues. Calling the MOL was to be the last in a long line of chances but it had to be down. Young workers put at risk at any time is unacceptable.
By the way, the only problems we have now are some of the workers are blocking the roads to chat and not allowing the people that actually live there a chance to get to their own work. With the reputation of this constructor, I do not see the reason to call and complain. They wouldn’t listen anyway.

P.S. When the MOL showed up there was someone throwing out hard hats to all the workers out of a van.

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 ‘Fall Protection’, ‘Due Diligence’ and Working at Heights’. 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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