Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’. A worker, employed by Westdale Construction Co. Limited, a company which owns and operates a high-rise residential apartment building, suffered a fall resulting in critical injuries while performing HVAC maintenance work.
On November 12, 2019, a worker employed by a company contracted by Westdale to perform HVAC maintenance work was dispatched to the building.
The area on the main floor of the building had had recent demolition work done for the purpose of renovation. The room had dust and debris on the floor from the demolition process.
The floor closest to the door was concrete, but approximately half-way across the room there was a transition to what was a drop ceiling for a room below. That ceiling served as the “floor” for the back half of the room. The two surfaces appeared to be even with each other.
The worker was unable to turn the heat on upon entry to the work area, and began tracing wiring across the room to the back to locate the source of the problem.
The worker stepped onto a suspended ceiling panel at the back area of the room and fell approximately ten feet to the floor of the laundry room below, sustaining critical injuries.
There was a strip of yellow caution tape strung across the back of the room, but no signage to indicate why it was there. There was no signage on the door to the room or anywhere in the room warning of the fall hazards present.
A ministry investigation found that the employer did not take the reasonable precaution of providing cautionary signage at appropriate locations to notify workers of the fall hazards in the work area.
Following a guilty plea at the Ontario Court of Justice in Toronto, Westdale Construction Co. Limited was fined $75,000 by Justice of the Peace W. Ralph.
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:
Westdale Construction Co. Limited 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 ‘Construction Projects’ reg. 213/91 was not used since it was on a property that Westdale Construction company owned and maintained the building so the Ministry of Labour chose to use the OHSA instead. Either way, Westdale Construction did not do everything reasonable to protect the contract worker. Questions should have been asked and answered such as;
- Where was the supervisor?
- Where was the signage?
- Was there a hazard assessment given by the supervisor? And
- Was the worker trained in hazard assessments?
HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs including ‘Fall Protection’, ‘Due Diligence’ and ‘Working at Heights’. 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
CEO & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.