Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’
On July 15, 2016, A worker, employed by Rauth Roofing Limited, a company that installs, replaces and maintains primarily flat roofs on commercial and industrial buildings in the Windsor area, fell through an opening in the roof and later died from the injuries.
The project consisted of the replacement of an existing roof on a commercial building. First the existing roof – down to the metal deck underneath it – would be removed and discarded. A new built up roof system would then be installed.
At the north end of the roof surface was a raised curb from an old HVAC unit that had been removed on an unknown date, before this project. Following the removal of the HVAC unit, the wooden frame of the curb was left in place with a plywood cover on top and sealed with rubberized roofing material to prevent water leaks. This raised curb was to be removed by Rauth Roofing as part of its work on the roof replacement project.
On the morning of July 15, 2016, after conducting a site-hazard assessment, four Rauth Roofing workers began removing the existing roof deck, starting by dismantling the raised curb. Once they had removed rubberized roofing material and plywood cover from the curb, the workers noticed a sheet metal covering fastened on the underside of the opening beneath the curb. The curb was then removed and flipped over away from the opening.
At this point the four workers were joined by another one of their colleagues to assist with moving the curb away from the work area. Four of the workers then began carrying the curb away as planned and agreed to by the workers. As they did so, the remaining worker prepared to place a piece of metal roof decking over the opening. The intent was to immediately use the piece of metal roof decking to make the opening flush with the rest of the roof surface.
Meanwhile, as the other four workers were carrying away the curb, a portion of the curb began to break and one of those workers decided to let the others continue carrying away the curb on their own.
A few moments after that, the lone worker was observed stepping into the opening. In doing so the worker stepped onto the sheet metal covering that was still fastened on the underside of the opening. The sheet metal gave way and the worker fell through the opening and landed on the surface of the second floor of the building.
The worker sustained critical injuries as a result of the fall. Emergency medical services arrived on scene and the worker was rushed to hospital. The worker succumbed to the injuries and passed away less than two weeks later.
The Ministry of Labour investigated the incident. The conclusion was that the Rauth Roofing Limited committed the offence of failing as an employer to ensure that either a guardrail system or protective covering as prescribed was used to prevent a worker from falling through an opening on a work surface.
The law(s) in contravention:
Rauth Roofing was found guilty of a contravention of the Ontario ‘Construction’ regulation 213/91, section 26.3, subsection (2) which states,
“One of the following precautions shall be used to prevent a worker from falling through an opening on a work surface:
- A guardrail system that meets the requirements of this section.
- A protective covering that,
- completely covers the opening,
- is securely fastened,
iii. is adequately identified as covering an opening,
- is made from material adequate to support all loads to which the covering may be subjected, and
- is capable of supporting a live load of at least 2.4 kilonewtons per square metre without exceeding the allowable unit stresses for the material used.”
This was contrary to section 25(1)(c) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act which states,
“An employer shall ensure that,
(c) the measures and procedures prescribed are carried out in the workplace.”
The accident took place over a year after the “Working at Heights” training started. (April 2015) I was also surprised to see that the company completed a JHA (Job Hazard Assessment) prior to the work being done. How can someone miss an opening in the floor? It is something that is seen all the time but I guessed the Roofing Company failed to listen during the guardrail and floor covering sections of the WAH training, OR, did they even take the training.
It wasn’t in the report so one has to believe they did take the training, BUT, next time, read the material and apply the knowledge. That is listed in the OHSA section 25, subsection 2(a), section 27, subsection 1(a) and section 28, subsection 1(a). If Rauth Roofing did not know this, from the training, then the training was faulty.
HRS Group Inc. is an approved provider for “Working at Heights” training. Our training staff are all university trained and know the law. I guarantee that our students are trained to know how to better protect themselves under the law.
Our great team can help you with all your health and safety needs. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.
Ensure your workplace is a safe place.
Remember – In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”
‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.
Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Advanced Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.