Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’
A worker, employed by Toronto Hydro-Electric System Limited, an electric utility that owns and operates the electricity distribution system for the City of Toronto, suffered a fatal injury while performing work in an underground electrical vault.
On August 12, 2020, a six-person crew from Toronto Hydro was sent to a worksite to perform work in an underground electrical vault. The work was limited to disconnecting energized secondary cables to a transformer for the transformer to be removed and replaced later by a different crew.
When the crew arrived, they began work by completing a Work Site Risk Assessment Form and discussing the contents of the form, including who would perform the various elements of the task. The roles and responsibilities of each crew member were discussed and agreed to, with each member then getting into position.
Stationed above ground, one crew member passed equipment below into the vault. A second crew member received the tools and, as needed, passed tools within the vault.
With help from the crew, an apprentice and another worker manually disconnected the secondary cables connected to the transformer while wearing insulated rubber gloves. Together, the crew completed the work of disconnecting the secondary cables.
After completing the task, a reading was taken indicating that the current on the cables was too high. To reduce the current, the crew had to perform a different task involving the connection of a previously removed tie-cable to another service cable.
During the connection of the final cable, the worker was still wearing insulated rubber gloves while securing a bolt with a box wrench and holding an impact gun in the other hand.
At this time, the worker came into contact with low voltage electricity. The electrical shock injured the worker and caused the worker to fall. The worker was taken to hospital but succumbed later to their injuries sustained as a result of the electrical contact.
Following a guilty plea in the Ontario Court of Justice in Toronto, Toronto Hydro-Electric System Limited was fined $200,000 by Judge Leslie Chapin; Counsel David McCaskill.
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:
Toronto Hydro-Electric System Ltd. Was found guilty of a contravention of the Ontario ‘Construction Projects’ regulation 213/91, section 183 which states,
Every reasonable precaution shall be taken to prevent hazards to workers from energized electrical equipment, installations, and conductors.
Accordingly, the defendant failed to ensure that measures and procedures prescribed by section 183 of the regulation were carried out in the workplace, contrary to section 25(1)(c) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) which states,
“An employer shall ensure that,
(c) the measures and procedures prescribed are carried out in the workplace.”
In this day and age, 6 people were involved in a task dealing with an underground vault. Please tell me that not even one of them was aware of the dangers. There must have been someone there with years of experience.
Electrical accidents are one of the most devastating of all the accidents out there. Life and death always hangs in the balance.!
By the way, the credentials of the 6 workers seem to not be in question. I believe this was also a factor that licensed electricians failed. The credentials are described in section 182(1) of the ‘Construction Projects’ 213/91 states,
“No worker shall connect, maintain, or modify electrical equipment or installations unless,
(a) the worker holds a certificate of qualification or a provisional certificate of qualification issued under the Building Opportunities in the Skilled Trades Act, 2021, that is not suspended, in the trade of,
(i) electrician — construction and maintenance, or
(ii) electrician — domestic and rural, if the worker is performing work that is limited to the scope of practice for that trade; or
(b) the worker is otherwise permitted to connect, maintain, or modify electrical equipment or installations under the Building Opportunities in the Skilled Trades Act, 2021 or the Technical Standards and Safety Act, 2000.”
HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.
We can also be reached at www.hrsgroup.com.
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 and Training Director