Blog Post #1232 – Fall from Ladder Results in $50,000 Fine for St. Thomas Manufacturer

Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’

A worker suffered a critical injury after falling off a ladder while trying to access the roof of the workplace.  There was no safe means to access the roof. The worker was an employee of Maxill Inc., 80 Elm Street, St. Thomas, Ontario, a company that manufactures infection control products.

On September 18, 2018, the worker was assigned the task to inspect the drains on the roof of the building. To gain access to the roof, the worker had to climb a six-foot aluminum stepladder to reach a vertical fixed access ladder attached to the side of the building, while carrying a five-gallon pail with tools and other equipment.

While standing on the top cap of the stepladder, the worker reached for the fixed access ladder above. The ladder tipped over, and the worker fell to a concrete pad below, sustaining a critical injury.

An investigation conducted by the (then) Ministry of Labour determined that there was no safe means of access to the roof of the facility. In particular, the bottom rung of the fixed access ladder was seven feet, three inches above the concrete pad, requiring some way of reaching the fixed access ladder. The stepladder was not a safe way to do so, as there was a gap of about 18 inches between the top cap of the stepladder and the bottom rung of the fixed access ladder.

The manufacturer’s instructions for the stepladder provided that the top cap should not be used as a step. Furthermore, the fixed access ladder itself was not safe, in that it extended more than five metres (about 16 feet) above the concrete pad, and did not have the required safety cage around it.

Following a guilty plea, Maxill Inc. was fined $50,000 by Justice of the Peace Walter W. Rojek in St. Thomas provincial offences court; 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:

Maxill Inc. 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,

  • provide information, instruction and supervision to a worker to protect the health or safety of the worker.”

I was surprised that this type of accident could happen. In the ‘Working at Heights’ training, (HRS Group Inc. is an approved provider) discussion about ladder safety covers the need to stay off the first 2 rungs, as per the manufacturer, on a stepladder and no higher than the fourth rung on an extension ladder. (the top three rungs are to climb off and on)

It is too bad that Maxill Inc. did not receive this training for the workers as well as the supervisor. Yes, the supervisor needs the training to be “Competent” as described in the ‘Definitions’ section of the OHSA. The supervisor MUST be “Competent” as required in section 25, subsection 2(c) which states,

“An employer shall,

(c)  when appointing a supervisor, appoint a competent person.”

HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs including ‘Fall Protection’ and ‘Working at Heights’. 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 Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

Daniel L. Beal

CHSEP – Advanced Level

VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.


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