Blog Post #1516 – Workplace Injury Results in $60,000 Fine for Stouffville Employer, B. Phillips Company Ltd.

Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’

A worker was critically injured falling from a height during the maintenance and repair of an oxygen furnace. Contrary to safety measures and procedures prescribed by regulations and the Occupational Health and Safety Act, B. Phillips Company (1987) Limited failed to prevent access to the hazardous area or provide a guardrail and/or fall protection devices for the protection of workers.

Phillips Company (1987) Limited was contracted by Stelco Inc., a steel manufacturer, to perform maintenance and repair work on one of its oxygen furnaces. This included replacing a shielding skirt on a vessel used to purify steel.

To access the vessel, workers entered from the second floor through three large doors on a high-traffic walkway, which were open to numerous workers. The centre doors opened to a large-engineered platform equipped with railings and capable of supporting equipment needed for the repair work. The other two doors did not have engineered platforms and B. Phillips Company erected temporary railings supplemented with yellow caution tape across the openings.

The openings did not have properly constructed guardrails or necessary fall protection devices.

On August 17, 2020, a worker employed by Stelco, leaned on one of the temporary railings and it came loose, causing the worker to fall, sustaining critical injuries.

The court found at trial that B. Phillips Company (1987) Limited, as an employer, failed to ensure the measures and procedures prescribed.

Stelco Inc. was also charged under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, but was acquitted on all counts.

Following a trial in the Ontario Court of Justice, Cayuga, on August 21, 2023, B. Phillips Company (1987) Limited was fined $20,000 per count, for a total of $60,000, by Justice of the Peace Robert Munro. Crown Counsel was Dan Phelan.

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:

  1. Phillips Company (1987) Ltd., was found guilty of a contravention of the Ontario ‘Industrial Establishments” sector regulation 851/90, section 13(1)(b) and 14 which states,

13(1)(b)

“There shall be a guardrail,

(b) at an open side of,

(i) a raised floor, mezzanine, balcony, gallery, landing, platform, walkway, stile, ramp or other surface, or

(ii) a vat, bin or tank, the top of which is less than 107 centimetres above the surrounding floor, ground, platform or other surface.”

14.

(1) “A guardrail shall,

(a) have a top rail located not less than 91 and not more than 107 centimetres above the surface to be guarded;

(b) have a mid rail;

(c) if tools or other objects may fall on a worker, have a toe-board that extends from the surface to be guarded to a height of at least 125 millimetres; and

(d) be free of splinters and protruding nails.”

(2) “A guardrail shall be constructed to meet the structural requirements for guards as set out in the Building Code.”

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.”

  1. Phillips Company also failed section 25, subsection 2(h) of the OHSA which states,

“An employer shall,

(h)     Take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of the worker.”

I just couldn’t believe a company would fight a case in court with the MOL. Their investigators are thorough and have a large database to draw previous charges and situations.

May B. Phillips Company Ltd., felt that Stelco should, should, at least, share some of the cost and B. Phillips Company would be right in a construction-type setting.

Section 23, subsection (1) of the OHSA states,

23 (1) “A constructor shall ensure, on a project undertaken by the constructor that,

(a) the measures and procedures prescribed by this Act and the regulations are carried out on the project;

(b) every employer and every worker performing work on the project complies with this Act and the regulations; and

(c) the health and safety of workers on the project is protected.”

  1. Phillips Company should have spent the time and energy to erect guardrails to meet the building code and was to the specifications listed above.

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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