Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’
Western Mechanical Electrical Millwright Services Ltd., a company that provides millwright and structural engineering services, pleaded guilty and has been fined $50,000 after a worker was pinned by falling posts and injured on a construction site.
On March 5, 2014 Western Mechanical was engaged by a company to dismantle and replace a steel storage system inside that company’s warehouse in Concord. The storage consisted of ‘sleeper’ beams (hollow steel tubes) laid out in the ground and vertical upright posts welded onto the sleeper beams.
At the time of the incident, one worker was in the process of welding a 12-foot upright post in place on a sleeper beam. Other workers were in the process of demolishing the older system of racking. To do so, another worker cut loose an upright support using a grinder and a torch.
As this was being done, it caused a rotation of sleeper beams and posts that were already welded in place. The posts caused a domino effect and continued to knock over two more rows of upright posts.
The worker who had been performing welding was located in line with the falling posts and was struck. The static weight of the load which fell on the worker was over 2,400 pounds. The worker was pinned until a crane could be brought to lift the steel off the worker, who suffered leg injuries.
The subsequent Ministry of Labour investigation found that although the preliminary checks by Western Mechanical’s supervisor indicated that the sleepers were anchored, not all of them were.
In the circumstances Western Mechanical failed to take the reasonable precaution of ensuring that a sleeper beam was securely anchored prior to upright posts being installed, contrary to section 25(2)(h) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The company pleaded guilty and was fined $50,000 by Justice of the Peace Douglas Clark in Newmarket court on February 12, 2016.
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.
The law(s) in contravention:
Western Mechanical Electrical Millwright Services Ltd. was found guilty of a contravention of section 25, subsection 2(h) of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act, which states,
“An employer shall,
(h) take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker.”
It sounds to me that the supervisor was not “Competent” to do his job. This is in direct violation of the OHSA, section 27, subsection 2 which states,
“A supervisor shall,
(a) advise a worker of the existence of any potential or actual danger to the health or safety of the worker of which the supervisor is aware;
(b) where so prescribed, provide a worker with written instructions as to the measures and procedures to be taken for protection of the worker; and
(c) take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker.”
If the employer did not train the supervisor up to the ‘competency standards as listed in the definitions section of the OHSA which is,
“Competent Person means a person who,
(a) is qualified because of knowledge, training and experience to organize the work and its performance,
(b) is familiar with this Act and the regulations that apply to the work, and
(c) has knowledge of any potential or actual danger to health or safety in the workplace.”
Then the employer is in violation of section 25, subsection 2 (c) of the OHSA
“An employer shall,
(c) when appointing a supervisor, appoint a competent person.”
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Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Advanced Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.