Blog Post #299 – Atlas Dewatering and Supervisor Fined $81,000 Total after Worker Injured

Excerpt from the Government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’

Atlas Dewatering Corporation, a Concord company dealing in groundwater control, was fined $75,000 on February 10, 2011, for a violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act after a worker was critically injured. Patrick Maher, a supervisor with the company, was fined $6,000 in relation to the same incident.

On June 12, 2009, Atlas Dewatering Corporation was working at the bridge between Chapman St. and Silver Lake Rd. in Port Dover. The company was installing a temporary cofferdam so that engineers could inspect the existing dam. A cofferdam is an enclosure within a water environment that allows water to be pumped out to create a dry environment. Workers were using a crane to install the cofferdam while an electrical conductor remained energized overhead. A worker came into contact with the crane’s hook and received an electrical shock that caused extensive nerve damage leading to amputation.

A Ministry of Labour investigation found that there was less than three metres between the crane and the energized 4800 volt conductor at the time of the incident.

Atlas Dewatering Corporation pleaded guilty to failing to ensure that there was at least three meters between the crane and the energized conductor. Patrick Maher pleaded guilty to the same.

The fines were imposed by Justice of the Peace Richard Kivell. In addition to the fines, 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:

Atlas Dewatering Corporation was found guilty of violating section 188(2) of the Ontario ‘Construction’ regulation 213/91 which states,

“No object shall be brought closer to an energized overhead electrical conductor with a nominal phase-to-phase voltage rating set out column 1 of the Table to this subsection than the distance opposite to it in column 2.

Column 1                                                                   Column 2

750 or more volts, but less than 150,000 volts 3 metres              (about 10 feet)
150,000 volts, but no more than 250,000 volts 4.5 metres        (about 14.5 feet)
More than 250,000 volts 6 metres                                                    (about 20 feet)

This term is called MSAD — Minimum Safe Approach Distance. It is important that the employer is aware of the distances between their workers and energized power lines.

The operator MUST have received training in ‘Overhead Cranes’ or in ‘Tower Cranes’ or in ‘Mobile Cranes’. Any of the three courses would have explained this to the operator and he/she would have kept all personnel away from the line or at least made the operator aware and kept the crane and its parts to a safe approach distance as described.

It is a good lesson for all to learn. If your company utilizes some sort of crane ensure that the MSAD has been identified if energized lines have been located. Plan your move and keep the safety of your workforce at the fore front.

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 ‘Electrical Safety Awareness’, ‘Construction Lifting and Rigging’ and ‘Lockout and Tagout’. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.

We can also be reached at 

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

CHSEP – Foundation Level
Daniel L. Beal
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.

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