Blog Post #1489 – Chatham Demolition and Excavating Company Fined $70,000 After Workplace Fatality

Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’

A worker, employed by James Curran Expert Removal & Excavating Limited., died after falling from the upper level of a building that was being demolished. James Curran Expert Removal & Excavating Limited failed to ensure that the worker was adequately protected by a method of fall protection when exposed to a fall of more than three metres.

On July 19, 2021, James Curran Expert Removal & Excavating Limited was engaged in the demolition of an old building previously used as a grain silo. The building was a two-storey steel framed building with metal cladding. The structural steel skeleton consisted of several different platforms at various heights. The upper-most platform contained two old hoppers, various pipes and structural walls, all of which needed to be removed.

At the time of the incident, the worker was on a platform that had holes in the floor and unguarded openings around three sides, approximately 7.62 metres above the ground. The worker was using an oxy-acetylene torch to cut pieces of structural steel components that would then be rigged to a crane, which would lower the pieces.

The worker was in the process of removing an old hopper, working off a ladder placed beside the hopper on the platform. While making a cut, one half of the hopper dropped suddenly and fell to the platform, causing the worker to fall off the ladder, over the edge of the platform, to the ground below. The worker, who was not protected by any method of fall protection, suffered fatal injuries.

Following a guilty plea in the Chatham-Kent Provincial Offences Court in Blenheim, James Curran Expert Removal & Excavating Limited was fined $70,000 by Justice of the Peace Susan Hoffman.

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:

James Curran Expert Removal and Excavating Ltd., was found guilty of a contravention of the Ontario ‘Construction Projects’ sector regulation, section 26.1, subsection 2 which states,

“If it is not practicable to install a guardrail system as that subsection requires, a worker shall be adequately protected by the highest ranked method that is practicable from the following ranking of fall protection methods:

  1. A travel restraint system that meets the requirements,
  2. A fall restricting system that meets the requirements,
  3. A fall arrest system, other than a fall restricting system designed for use in wood pole climbing, that meets the requirements, or
  4. A safety net that meets the requirements.”

This is contrary to 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.”

Questions needed to have been asked and answered may have been,

  • Were the employees trained in Working at Heights (WAH)?
  • Was the supervisor “Competent” to supervise the operation?
  • Was a JHA, Job Hazard Assessment of Analysis completed before the work was to be done? And
  • Was there a safety person on site to ask these questions?

All good questions, but again, no answers. By the way, HRS Group Inc. is an approved provider of WAH, both full day and refresher.

HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs including ‘Fall Protection’ and ‘Working at Heights’. 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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