Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’
Two workers employed by Gerdau Ameristeel located in Whitby, Ontario were injured after being struck with a piece of waste material that fell from a furnace. There was no overhead protection to protect the workers from the hazards of falling material.
On November 12, 2018, a fire occurred in the back of a furnace in the Whitby plant. The fire was immediately extinguished but a hydraulic hose was damaged and required replacement. Two workers were assigned to perform the repair work.
The workers began the repair and were working directly underneath the outer edge of the furnace roof/lid which had been swung out to expose the burnt hydraulic hose for repair.
As the workers were removing the hydraulic hose, a large piece of waste material known in the industry as “slag” became dislodged and fell about 15 feet, striking both workers. It was estimated that the slag weighed approximately 80 pounds.
Emergency services were contacted and the two workers were transported to Oshawa Lakeridge Hospital. The two workers suffered extensive and critical injuries from the strike.
The Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development investigated and determined that there was no overhead protection provided by Gerdau to protect the workers from the hazards of falling material.
Following a guilty plea in provincial offences court in Whitby, Gerdau was fined $115,000 by Justice of the Peace Karim Premji; Crown Counsel Walter Ojok.
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.
The law(s) in contravention:
Gerdau Ameristeel was found guilty of a contravention of the Ontario ‘Industrial Establishments’ sector regulation 851/90, section 35 which states,
“Overhead protection shall be provided where falling material may endanger any worker.”
This is in direct contravention of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) section 25, subsection 1(c) which states,
“An employer shall ensure that,
(c) the measures and procedures prescribed are carried out in the workplace.”
Gerdau Ameristeel has had a good reputation up to this point and I was very surprised by the accident. Things do happen, but as a former Durham region homeowner, knowing the flaws at Lasco Steel years ago, I was very surprised.
Overhead protection like this is one area that does not seem to get the same review and inspection and section 35 does not seem to get used much. The Mining regulation 854/90, does include such protection especially since they deal with quite a lot of conveyors and conveyor guarding so overhead guarding is usually addressed.
HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs including ‘Due Diligence’ and ‘SOPs’. 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.