Blog Post #312 – Boiler Explosion Claims Worker

Excerpt from the OH&S Canada Magazine

Three workers were injured, one fatally, during a boiler explosion at a heating plant in Ottawa last fall.

Paramedics were called to the plant — which services, among other federal structures, the Parliament buildings and the Supreme Court of Canada — at about 12:15 pm on October 19, says J.P. Trottier, a spokesperson for the Ottawa Paramedic Service.

Paramedics provided on-site treatment to a 51-year-old employee of Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC). The worker, who suffered second-degree burns to about half of his body and a large laceration to his head, succumbed to his injuries the following morning, Trottier reports.

Another worker, also 51, received first-degree burns to his face and arm, while the third employee, believed to be in his 50s, was treated for minor scrapes and bruises, says Trottier.

The facility uses five high-pressure boilers, notes Frank Nitschmann, president of the heating and power unit of PWGSC within the Public Service Alliance of Canada. There was substantial damage to the site, including a buckled wall, a garage door blown from its tracks and a large door blown off, Nitschmann said following the blast.

Kim Ayotte, chief of special operations for Ottawa Fire Services, says many of the plant’s 27 workers had evacuated by the time firefighters arrived on scene. A quick search was carried out and the building was cleared, Ayotte reports.

He says a concern for both firefighters and paramedics who attended is possible asbestos exposure from buildings that date back almost a century.

“We determined later it was asbestos- covered piping and it had all been sealed,” he says. “So the question was, ‘Did the explosion knock any of the sealed asbestos loose?'”

My opinion

Before any work is to be done, there is an Ontario regulation 278/05 which covers ‘Designated Substance’ — Asbestos on Construction Projects and in Buildings and Repair Operations. As a precaution, it would have served the workforce better to complete a pre-plan of the operation taking into account all possible hazards and then place proper controls. The employer should have been well versed in this type of legislation even though there may not be something comparable at the federal level. Funny, isn’t it? Bill C45 was created because of the lack of federal legislation to protect workers and now we need to research to see if Canada should follow Ontario to provide the same high quality standards.

I hope so.

Remember — In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”

HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs including ‘Asbestos Safety Awareness’. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.

We can also be reached at 

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Foundation Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.

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