Blog Post #1009 – Diamond Drilling Company Fined $200,000 After Worker Killed by Falling Tree

Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’

Following a trial, Orbit Garant Drilling Services Inc., a diamond drilling company operating in northeastern Ontario, was found guilty and fined $200,000 after a worker was killed by a falling tree while exiting a bulldozer.

The company was operating multiple diamond surface drills in the area of the St. Andrews Holloway-Holt mine sites east of Timmins when, on June 25, 2014, two workers were coming off shift. They were travelling to the parking lot of the Holloway-Holt #3 mine area. Normally a crew would ride on a four-wheeled all-terrain vehicle but that piece of equipment was broken down. The ATV had been secured to a bulldozer and the bulldozer was used to travel. Procedure dictates that only one person at a time should be in a bulldozer but on this occasion both workers were in the bulldozer.

One of the workers who had been riding in the cab of the bulldozer opened the cab door to step out, when a chicot – a standing dead tree weighing more than 2,000 pounds – fell, striking the door and fatally injuring the worker.

A Ministry of Labour investigation found that both workers had been fully trained in the appropriate programs. The manufacturer’s specifications state that the bulldozer should only be used by one person, the operator. In addition, the route of travel – a bush road – was not approved by Orbit Garant or St. Andrews.

It was known that the established travelway – a seven-kilometre round trip – to and from the drill site was getting soft and muddy to the point of being impassable. Court was told that the company should have known that workers would not walk through the conditions at the site and should have immediately provided proper transportation.

Orbit Garant Inc. was found guilty of failing as an employer to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker – that is, failing to take the reasonable precaution of ensuring the removal of all chicots on or near the travel-way that provided access to the workplace. The company was also found guilty of failing to take the reasonable precaution of ensuring that a safe means of egress from a workplace was provided to workers.

Justice of the Peace Sylvie-Emanuelle Bourbonnais imposed the fine of $200,000 on the company in Timmins court on July 13, 2017.

The court also 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:

Orbit Garant Drilling Services Inc. was found guilty of (2) contraventions of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) section 25, subsection 2(h) which states,

An employer shall,

(h) take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker.”

The company SHOULD have realized many things and completed a job hazard analysis/assessment (JHA) prior to the job being sourced. The recognition of the Chicot.

What is a Chicot? Ontario ‘Industrial Establishments’ Regulation 851/90, section 103 provides the following definition for a chicot:

Section 103 “chicot” means (a) A dead tree, or (b) A dead limb of a tree that may endanger a worker.

The Workplace Safety North has an excellent PDF of a procedure of how to deal with a chicot. Sections include:

  1. Finding Chicots,
  2. Marking Chicots, and
  3. Eliminating Chicots, which may include a skidder (preferable) or a chainsaw.

There is also a checklist for the procedure.

Too bad Orbit Garant Drilling Services did not review the PDF prior.

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 

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

Daniel L. Beal

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




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