Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’

General Motors of Canada pleaded guilty and was fined $160,000 after a worker was hospitalized with injuries sustained from a 2,000-pound lift table falling and crushing the worker.

On December 17, 2012, a worker at the Oshawa plant was showing a co-worker how to perform a task on the automatic guided vehicle (AGV) repair crib. The worker provided the co-worker with the preliminary steps to be taken for the task, which involved removing screws from a ball screw assembly, then was called away. The co-worker removed all the screws except one.

Upon returning, the worker began to show how to retract the ball screw and did so while sitting on top of the frame of the AGV with the lift table raised above. There was no blocking material in place between the lift table and the AGV to prevent the lift table from accidentally falling. The lift table and a pallet that is used to hold the car frame fell on top of the worker. Other workers rushed to assist and raised the lift table with pry bars. The worker was taken to Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and underwent surgery for injuries that included a number of broken bones.

The Ministry of Labour investigated and its engineer determined that the cause of the lift table collapse was the failure of the assembly’s remaining screw. Although the workers had used a safety bar mechanism which was designed to hold the weight of the lift table, it had accidentally come out of place while the lift table was being raised. The remaining screw could not bear the weight of the lift table and it failed. As a result, the ball screw assembly separated from the lift table, allowing it to fall on the worker.

General Motors of Canada pleaded guilty to failing as an employer to ensure that the measures and procedures prescribed in Section 74 of Ontario Regulation 851/90 were carried out in the workplace. The regulation under the Occupational Health and Safety Act states that “machinery, equipment or material that is temporarily elevated and under which a worker may pass or work shall be securely and solidly blocked to prevent the machinery, equipment or material from falling or moving.”

The company was fined $160,000 by Justice of the Peace Mathilda Lewis in Whitby court.

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:

General Motors of Canada was found guilty of a contravention of section 74 of the Ontario ‘Industrial’ regulation 74 which states,

“Machinery, equipment or material that is temporarily elevated and under which a worker may pass or work shall be securely and solidly blocked to prevent the machinery, equipment or material from falling or moving.”

General Motors of Canada was also found guilty of a contravention of section 25, subsection 1 (c) of the Ontario ‘Occupational Health and Safety Act’ which states,

“An employer shall ensure that,

(c) The measures and procedures prescribed are carried out in the workplace.”

Here we have a world wide corporation that did not see the benefit of having a set of safe work instructions, OR, did not have adequate supervision, at the time of the accident. At the very least, General Motors should have had the supervisor engaged in a tool box meeting discussing the planned maintenance of the AGV (automatic guided vehicle) and ensured that the workers were given the needed information, instruction and supervision to protect the health or safety of the worker.”

General Motors has a very large health and safety committee and they should have reviewed processes such as this one as part of a yearly monitoring which is part of the mandate of the committee.

Too bad that changes were made as a reactive measure instead of a proactive one.

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’ 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.

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