Blog Post #1156 – High-Pressure Water Device Kills Worker, $85,000 Fine for Mississauga Company

Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’

A worker lost control of a high-pressure water jetting system and was killed after being hit by the water jet. The accident happened at 1860 Bonhill Road in Mississauga. At that time the company operated under a different name. The new one was under a numbered company.

The company was retained to clean the catch basins at a property located at 3333 Unity Drive in Mississauga. A catch basin is a pre-cast concrete basin placed in the ground to collect water runoff and is covered with a heavy steel grate. In addition to rain water, sediment will settle in the bottom and has to be cleaned out.

Hydro-vac trucks are equipped with a suction vacuum system for drawing the water and sediment out of a drain and with a high-pressure water jetting system used for breaking up the sediment and cleaning the drain. The vacuum and water jetting systems can be operated either from a panel on the side of the truck, or from a hand-held remote control.

The water jetting system consists of a tank of water and pump at the truck and a flexible hose/line from the water pump which ends in a straight spray wand. Water is drawn from the tank, through the hose, and the wand is lowered into the drain. When the system is activated, the wand expels water at a high rate of pressure (2,000 pounds per square inch) into the drain to break up debris.

On August 26, 2017, a worker who was an experienced operator was assisted by a helper and they cleaned a number of drains in the property’s east parking lot.

The pair then drove to the north parking lot and started to work on a drain there. The experienced worker was operating a hand-held remote as well as the wand. At one point the worker held the flexible part of the hose in order to allow the wand to get into the deeper areas of the drain.

The worker lost control of the high-pressure water jetting system and dropped the hose. The water jet became uncontrolled as the hose flung around.

The worker was hit by the water jet in the neck and was pronounced dead at the scene. The helper was also hit by the jet and received minor injuries.

An operator-controlled trigger to control the flow of water can be attached between the hose and the wand of a high-pressure water jetting system. In such a configuration, the trigger must be continually squeezed for water to jet out. If the trigger is released, the water jet is immediately shut off. The spray wand of the high-pressure water jetting system being used by the worker was not equipped with an operator-controlled trigger.

Although the company purchased and made available operator-controlled triggers for its vehicles where requested by operators, there was no policy or instruction requiring workers to use the operator-controlled trigger attachment. Industry guidelines recommend the use of an operator-controlled trigger on the wands of high-pressure water jetting systems due to the hazards associated with uncontrolled water jets.

Following a guilty plea, the company was fined $85,000 by Justice of the Peace Helena Cassano in provincial offences court in Mississauga; Crown Counsel Judy L. Chan.

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:

The numbered company was found guilty of a contravention 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 employer forgot this very important section of the OHSA. There should have been safe operating procedures set up as well and a completed JHA. None were evident and the employer did not practice ‘Due Diligence’.

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 

Ensure your workplace is a safe place.

Remember – “In Canada, ALL Accidents are Preventable”

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

Daniel L. Beal

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



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