Blog Post #1484 – Workplace Fatality Results in $135,000 Fine for Thunder Bay Contracting Company

Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’

While replacing the left hydraulic lift cylinder of the arm of a front-end loader, a worker, employed by Finn Way General Contractor Inc., of Thunder Bay, Ontario, was fatally injured when the loader arm dropped after the hydraulic cap placed on the hydraulic lines was removed, releasing the pressurized fluid in the right hydraulic lift cylinder that was holding up the weight of the arm. Finn Way General Contractor Inc., failed as an employer, to ensure measures and procedures prescribed by the Industrial Establishments’, Ontario Regulation 851/90 were carried out in the workplace.

On July 12, 2021, workers at Finn Way General Contractor Inc. removed the left lift cylinder on a front-end loader to send it for repairs. The cylinder was one of the two pressurized hydraulic cylinders used to lift and lower the arm of the loader. To remove the cylinder, the arm of the loader needed to be lifted. While most front-end loaders have a prop or support mechanism that is used to solidly block the loader arm from falling while in an elevated position, this particular model was not equipped with this safety mechanism from the manufacturer. Finn Way General Contractor Inc. also did not have a procedure in place on how to support the arm of the loader in absence of a prop or support mechanism.

Workers used an overhead crane and sling to support the machine’s loader arm after the arm was lifted using the loader’s power. The sling, which was held by the crane, was intended to support the loader arm from lowering while the hydraulics were being worked on. Using the overhead crane this way did not comply with the requirements of section 74 of Ontario Regulation 851: Industrial Establishments. Nevertheless, on July 12, 2021, it enabled workers to remove the left lift cylinder without incident. After the left lift cylinder was removed, the hydraulic lines of the cylinder were capped until it could be replaced.

Four days later, on July 16, 2021, the date of the incident, two workers were replacing the repaired left lift cylinder on the front-end loader. While one worker stopped work to take a lunch break, the other worker continued work on their own to finish replacing the cylinder. The arm of the loader was elevated using the hydraulic fluid pressure in the right lift cylinder. This was the only mechanism being used to hold up the arm of the loader at the time.

During the process of installing the left lift cylinder, the worker removed the hydraulic cap that was placed on the hydraulic lines. This released the pressurized fluid that the right lift cylinder was using to hold up the weight of the arm, causing the arm of the loader to suddenly drop on the worker, resulting in fatal injuries to the worker.

A Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development investigation revealed that the operation and maintenance manual for this particular front-end loader provided specific instructions to not depend on the hydraulic cylinders to hold up the equipment, and to use proper support when working underneath the equipment. It was at this time that it was learned that this particular model of front-end loader did not have a prop or support mechanism that could be used to hold up the arm of the loader while it was in the elevated position.

The lack of procedure, and inability to use a prop or manufactured support, to hold up the arm of the front-end loader, while repairs and maintenance was being performed, created a hazard for employees.

Following a guilty plea in the Ontario Court of Justice in Thunder Bay, Finn Way General Contractor Inc. was fined $135,000 by Justice Vince Scaramuzza. Crown Counsel were Marco Galluzzo and Tyler Fram.

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:

Finn Way General Contractor Inc. was found guilty of a contravention of the Ontario ‘Industrial Establishments’ sector regulation 851/90, section 74 which states,

“Machinery, equipment or material that is temporarily elevated and under which a worker may pass or work shall be securely and solidly blocked to prevent the machinery, equipment or material from falling or moving.”

This was contrary to the 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.”

As the reader can see, the employer MUST protect their employees at all times and take reasonable steps to prevent bodily harm. The employee should have been protected and the hazard identified in the first place.

HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs including ‘Material Handling’. 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
CEO & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.






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