Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’
Caterpillar Tunneling Canada Corporation, a Toronto-based company that designs and builds tunnel boring machines (TBMs) used to dig underground circular tunnels, was fined $130,000 on December 22, 2011, for violating the Occupational Health and Safety Act after a worker was injured.
On September 15, 2010, the TBM involved in the incident had been hydraulically pressurized to ensure its components and functions were working properly. The TBM contained a safety device called an accumulator, which remains pressurized even when the rest of the machine is not pressurized or otherwise operational.
The accumulator must be depressurized separately prior to its disassembly. That afternoon, the company failed to confirm that the accumulator had been depressurized, as that person responsible for this task had been directed to help with other work.
Later in the evening, a worker was directed by a supervisor to help two other workers to disassemble and prepare the TBM for shipment. When the crew unscrewed a hydraulic hose that was connected to the accumulator, a jet of hydraulic oil hit the worker in the face and neck. The worker then fell and suffered head injuries.
A Ministry of Labour investigation found that Caterpillar Tunneling Canada Corporation, as an employer, failed to ensure the pressure inside the gas compartment of the accumulator was adjusted to atmospheric pressure before a hydraulic fitting was removed.
Caterpillar Tunneling Canada Corporation was fined $130,000 by Justice of the Peace D. Keith Currie. In addition to the fine, the court 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.
The law(s) in contravention:
Caterpillar Tunneling Canada Corp. was also found guilty of a contravention of section 78 of the Ontario ‘Industrial’ regulation 851/90, section 78 which states,
“Where repairs or alterations are to be made on a drum, tank or pipeline or other container, the drum, tank, pipeline or other container shall,
a) Have internal pressure adjusted to atmospheric pressure before any fastening is removed;
b) Be drained and cleaned or otherwise rendered free from any explosive, flammable or harmful substance; and
c) Not be refilled while there is any risk of vaporizing or igniting the substance that is being placed in the drum, tank, pipeline or other container.”
Caterpillar Tunneling Canada Corp. was found guilty of a contravention of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) section 25, subsection 1(c) of the OHSA which states,
“An employer shall ensure that the measures and procedures prescribed are carried out in the workplace.”
A set of SOPs (safe operating procedures) would have helped in this case. An accumulator can be used in both hydraulic and pneumatic pressure situations. The maintenance people always know to bleed or drain the pressure prior to any work being done on the equipment. ALWAYS!!!
It is so frustrating to see this type of accident again and again, especially since the manufacturers always include the draining or bleeding of the accumulators as part of the maintenance procedure.
Please ensure that your company complies with all sections of the ACT as well as the appropriate regulations.
Ignorance of the law is no defense so please contact a company like HRS Group Inc. for all the information that you may need. Our competent staff is always there to assist you. With a CHSC and CHSEP on staff we have the expertise to educate your company and build the safety database you will need.
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 ‘Due Diligence’ and ‘Standard Operating Procedures’. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.
‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.
Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Foundation Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.