Blog Post #1251 – Worker Critically Injured in Explosion, $70,000 Fine for Steel Fabricator in Sudbury Area

Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’

A worker, employed by Noront Steel (1981) Ltd., of Copper Cliff, Ontario received critical injuries when a steel drum exploded into flames.

When Noront produced small steel objects, it stored and shipped them in 45-gallon steel drums. The drums were obtained used from other facilities.

Typically, the top would be cut off at Noront using an oxy-acetylene torch, and holes would be cut in the bottom of the barrel for drainage purposes. The barrels would be worked on in the condition they were received; they were not cleaned out first.

On August 24, 2018, a worker was cutting drainage holes into a drum with a torch when the barrel exploded into flames. The worker received critical injuries.

Investigation by the Centre for Forensic Sciences determined that the barrel contained flammable substances, included acetone, methyl ethyl ketone and toluene.

The barrel that exploded had not been rendered free from explosive and flammable substances before being provided to the worker for cutting. The contents of the barrel were not communicated to the worker and the label on the barrel indicated its contents were a substance that was not combustible.

Following a guilty plea, Noront Steel was fined $70,000 in provincial offences court in Sudbury by Justice of the Peace Sharon K. Ashick; Crown Counsel Wes Wilson.

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:

Noront Steel was found guilty of a contravention of the Ontario ‘Industrial Establishments’ sector regulation 851/90, section 78 which states,

“Where repairs or alterations are to be made on a drum, tank, pipeline or other container, the drum, tank, pipeline or other container shall,

(b) be drained and cleaned or otherwise rendered free from any explosive, flammable or harmful substance.”

I cannot believe this type of accident happened here and I cannot believe that any tank, that once held flammable and/or explosive chemical, was not purged and cleaned prior to the “hot work” was to be done.

Very unprofessional! There was no need for any of this to have happened.

HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs including ‘Chemical Safety Awareness’, ‘TDG’ and ‘WHMIS’. 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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