Blog Post #1004 – Company Sentenced for Fatality in a Confined Space

Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine

An Ontario company that provides washing services to industrial vehicles was fined $105,000 on December 20, 2018 over a worker fatality in January 2017.

The incident took place in Prokleen Washing Services Inc.’s facility in Oakville where two workers were washing a customer’s tank container carrying nitrogen without having to enter the tank. One of the workers left the site briefly and returned to find the other worker unconscious in the tank. Emergency medical services could not revive the worker. The coroner determined the cause of death to be entered gases fix creation. Nitrogen displaces oxygen and can be an asphyxiation hazard in an enclosed space.

The Ministry of Labour’s investigation found that the company’s written plan did not adequately identify certain workplace hazards. In particular, an access point of a customer’s container was not equipped with warning signs on the oxygen-depleted atmosphere of the tank.

The company pleaded guilty to failing to ensure an adequate written plan, including procedures for the control of hazards identified in the assessment, has been developed and implemented by a competent person for the confined space.

My opinion

First of all, most companies don’t even develop confined space entry policies and procedures and have a program to implement. There are many steps involved when it comes to developing a confined space program. I am going to describe, in much detail, the responsibilities on the employer, the supervisor, the worker and the “Attendant”.

The employer shall,

  • Identify and inventory all confined spaces throughout the facility;
  • Provide and maintain an entry program adequate to the needs;
  • Conduct an annual review of the confined space entry program;
  • Provide all employees with the appropriate personal protective attire and equipment;
  • Provide all employees with training for entry into confined spaces;
  • Provide contractors with information on any confined spaces which are involved in a project; and
  • Monitor the effectiveness of the Confined Space Entry Program.

The supervisor shall,

  • Assist in the identification of confined spaces;
  • Identify employees who may be expected to enter confined spaces;
  • Ensure all employees receive general and specific training for confined space entry and follow all appropriate procedures during entry;
  • Report, to the Health & Safety Coordinator, any contractors who fail to follow all appropriate procedures during entry; and
  • Monitor the effectiveness of the program.

The worker/employee shall,

  • Attend any training provided for confined spaces and to apply the knowledge;
  • Follow the procedures outlined in the program, or other policies, and to protect one’s self from foreseeable hazards;
  • Wear or use any personal protective attire or equipment as required during entry into any confined space; and
  • Report any potentially hazardous conditions to the Supervisor on duty.


The attendant shall,

  • A worker trained in confined space hazards.
  • Monitor and assist all personnel in the confined space.
  • Prohibited from entering the confined space.
  • Maintain communication with personnel.
  • Call for emergency rescue.
  • Provide confined space personnel with PPE, when required.

Not part of rescue team if a rescue has been initiated.

The most important thing to remember is to identify, assess and control hazards anywhere, and especially in a Confined Space.

Ontario regulation 632/05 was created to deal with all aspects of a ‘Confined Space’.

The definition of a “Confined Space” is,

  • A fully or partially enclosed space that is not both designed and constructed for continuous human occupancy and in which atmospheric hazards may occur because of its construction, location or contents or because of work that is done in it.

The company was also found guilty for not having a competent person develop and implement the confined space program.

The Ontario definition of a competent person 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.

HRS Group Inc. has a combined course for your company to deal with such issues. Lockout and Tagout are very real controls in a confined space so we have implemented a 2-part course for your convenience and I dare say, cost savings.

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’, ‘Confined Space Entry’ 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 

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

Daniel L. Beal

CHSEP – Advanced Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.



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