Blog Post #1517 – Workplace Injury Results in $50,000 Fine for University of Guelph

Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’

A worker was injured while unloading a pallet of soil from a truck. Contrary to safety procedures, the University of Guelph failed, as an employer, to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the health and safety of the worker, contrary to 25(2)(h) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

On May 18, 2021, a University of Guelph-owned truck delivered two pallets of 20 bales of soil to the university campus and a materials handler, employed by the university, was assigned to unload the pallets from the truck.

A mechanical liftgate was attached to the end of the vehicle to make it easier to unload cargo. The worker began unloading a pallet by pulling a manually operated “pump truck” onto the liftgate.

As the worker was attempting to reach the control mechanism of the liftgate to lower it to the ground, the pump truck with the pallet of soil bales rolled forward.

To avoid being struck by the pump truck and its pallet load, the worker jumped off the liftgate and landed on the ground. As a result of the impact, the worker sustained serious injuries.

A Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development investigation revealed that the liftgate manufacturer guidelines directed that the pump truck should have been pushed, not pulled, onto the liftgate, to avoid a loss of control.

The worker advised the ministry they had not been given sufficient instruction on how to safely get the pump truck and pallet onto the liftgate.

Following a guilty plea in the Ontario Court of Justice, Guelph, the University of Guelph was fined $50,000 by Justice of the Peace James Ziegler. Crown Counsel was Mike Nicol.

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:

The University of Guelph was found guilty of a contravention of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), section 25, subsection 2(h) which states,

“An employer shall,

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

The university, because they failed to ensure the worker received enough information to work safely, were in contravention of the OHSA, section 25, subsection 2(a) which states,

“An employer shall,

  • provide information, instruction, and supervision to a worker to protect the health or safety of the worker.”

Section 25 of the OHSA, subsection 1(c) was also in contravention and it states,

“An employer shall ensure that,

  • the measures and procedures prescribed are carried out in the workplace.”

As the reader can see, the University failed on many levels.

There were more failures, but I cannot list them all.

Please check section 25 of the OHSA, subsection 2(c) for more details.

HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs including “Due Diligence” or “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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