Blog Post #1509 – Construction Supervisor Fined $70,000 After Workplace Fatality

Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’

A worker died from injuries sustained in an explosion at a workplace. The construction supervisor of Infrastructure Coatings (Ontario) Corporation failed, as a supervisor, to ensure that a fire extinguisher was provided at a project where open-flame operations were carried out, as prescribed by Ontario Regulation 213/91 and contrary to the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Infrastructure Coatings (Ontario) Corporation was contracted by a constructor under contract to the Regional Municipality of York to re-line an underground water chamber with a spray waterproofing as part of a watermain remediation project.

Infrastructure Coatings (Ontario) Corporation applied the waterproof coating to the chamber in July 2020. A follow-up inspection revealed that a corner of the chamber was spongy and required re-spraying so the company returned and cut out the spongy area.

On August 5, 2020, workers again returned to the site to re-spray the waterproof coating. A worker and a waterstop supervisor acting as a “safety watch” completed the Confined Space Entry Permit and set up rescue and ventilation equipment prior to the worker entering the chamber to conduct repairs and cleaning. Access to the 17-foot deep, eight-foot by eight-foot chamber was through a manhole with a fixed vertical ladder.

After conducting the repairs, the worker used Methyl Ethyl Ketone (MEK) to clean the chamber. This product is extremely volatile and flammable.

A short time later, the worker was going to re-enter the chamber with a propane torch to speed up the drying process before applying the spray waterproofing. The waterstop supervisor indicated to the worker not to use the torch, before being distracted by their phone. At the same time the worker lit the torch near the manhole entrance. MEK fumes being purged from the chamber ignited, causing an explosion that critically injured the worker. There was no fire extinguisher at the scene. The worker died from their injuries several days later.

Following a guilty plea in the Ontario Court of Justice in Newmarket, Ontario, Tony Ventrone, former construction supervisor of Infrastructure Coatings (Ontario) Corporation, was fined $70,000 by Justice Edward Prutschi. Crown Counsel was 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.

My opinion

The law(s) in contravention:

Tony Ventrone, the construction supervisor, was in his truck at the site but not present at the incident scene and failed, as a supervisor, to ensure that fire extinguishing equipment was provided and readily accessible at a project where open-flame operations were carried out.

“Section 52(2)(c) of Ontario Construction regulation 213/91, states,

at least one fire extinguisher shall be provided,

(c) where welding or open-flame operations are carried on.”

This contrary to section 27(1)(a) of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety (OHSA) which states,

A supervisor shall ensure that a worker,

(a) works in the manner and with the protective devices, measures and procedures required by this Act and the regulations;

The supervisor needed to know all about Confined Space Entry (CSE), which includes PPE and permits.

A good CSE permit would have included a fire extinguisher AND a Fire Watch application would have covered an extra person with the appropriate fire extinguisher near the entry point.

The supervisor MUST ensure the safety of all his/her workers. Section 27, subsection 2(c) of the OHSA states,

“A supervisor shall,

(c) take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker.”

HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs including ‘Lockout and Tagout’ and ‘Confined Space Entry’ safety awareness.

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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