Blog Post #813 – Contractor Fined $120,000 in Death of Worker

Blog Post #813 – Contractor Fined $120,000 in Death of Worker

Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’

A contractor at the construction of the roadway leading to the proposed international crossing between Windsor and Detroit pleaded guilty and has been fined $120,000 in the death of a worker who was killed by a falling steel concrete-forming panel.

The defendant, 1256458 Ontario Ltd., is a construction contractor for road construction projects. It is related to and provided workers to PCR Contractors Inc., which was performing structural concrete work as part of a project to build 11 kilometres of road access to the crossing. The project includes a six-lane freeway and 11 tunnels. PCR and 1256458 Ontario Ltd. are part of the Collavino Group.

On the afternoon of June 17, 2014, a six-member crew was working at Tunnel 7 project located southeast of the intersection of Huron Church Road and Todd Lane in Windsor. The crew was installing and removing pre-manufactured steel concrete formwork panels which are used to form and hold concrete in place until the concrete has cured and the panels can be removed. The panels weigh about 2,800 pounds and are about 20 feet long and eight feet high.

Two of the crew were working below the tunnel deck, removing the fastening components and preparing for the removal of the panels by crane. Each panel had about two dozen tie rods to hold the panel in place while concrete was poured and cured; each tie rod consisted of a nut, a plate and wooden whaler (a weight-bearing crossbar). Each tie rod had a capacity of 89 kilonewtons (a measurement of force of over 20,000 pounds). Above the tunnel deck, a supervisor and a third worker were rigging the loosened panels to the crane; below them another two workers were installing panels on another section.

The two crew working below the tunnel deck were removing the last two panels in the work area, adjacent to a wall. The panels had been previously stripped of most of their components, leaving only one tie rod at the centre of each panel, and one nut or tie rod along the joint between the two panels. One worker used a hand wrench to remove the nut or tie rod along the joint that connected these last two panels.

A worker above them on the deck attached the second-last panel (panel 2) to the crane; a co-worker below used a crowbar to pry the last remaining panel (panel 1) away from the wall for easy removal and the tie rod was removed from panel 2, which was being hoisted. At that time, the last tie rod remained in the remaining panel, panel 1. It was later determined that this last tie rod had been removed from panel 1 before it could be attached to the crane for removal.

While panel 2 was being hoisted away by the crane, panel 1 separated from the wall and fell on one of the workers located below the tunnel deck. The worker suffered crushing injuries which proved fatal.

A Ministry of Labour construction health and safety inspector conducted an investigation, which found that all training and site safety procedures, job safety analyses and other steps taken to ensure safety were provided by the contractor performing the structural concrete work. While that contractor had provided training, through site supervision, to the workers for the installation and removal of the form-work panels, this training was insufficient for the protection of the workers.
The workers could not describe a specific or consistent number of tie rods used to hold the panels during removal, and said that anywhere from one to four tie rods were usually left to secure each panel to the wall before being hooked up and removed by the crane.

The manufacturer’s manual for installation and removal of the panels specifies that the final tie rods should not be removed before the panel is hooked to the crane. Although the manual did not specify the number of tie rods to remain, these instructions were not on site and the workers had not been trained on the manual.

The workers were employees of 1256458 Ontario Ltd. The company failed to provide information, instruction and supervision to a worker with respect to the safe removal of steel formwork, contrary to Section 25(2(a) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act; as a result, a worker was fatally injured.

The sentence was handed down in Windsor court by Justice of the Peace Susan Hoffman on September 17, 2015.

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:

1256458 Ontario Ltd., a construction contractor for road construction projects and is related to and provided workers to PCR Contractors Inc., was found guilty of a contravention of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act, section 25(2)(a) which states,

“An employer shall,

(a) provide information, instruction and supervision to a worker to protect the health or safety of the worker.”

How much simpler can it get? Give the workers a task and provide all the necessary information needed, the proper instruction necessary to complete the training and then supervise the actual work to ensure that the proper safe practices are being carried out.

Obviously, this was not the case and a worker died. Section 93 of the Ontario ‘Construction’ regulation 213/91 talks about how machinery and equipment must be used in accordance to the manufacturer’s manual. I realize this is not the same but the panel removal portion of the training was not in adherence to the manual, AND, that particular manual was not even there. Not a good call.

All aspects of the workplace and every operation MUST have a set of SOPs and, in those SOPs, need to ensure that safety is of the highest priority.

I bet you they have them now! Too late for the worker.

Ensure your workplace is a safe place.

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.

Dan
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