Blog Post #423 – Town of Pelham Fined $60,000 after Worker Injured

Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’

The Corporation of the Town of Pelham was fined $60,000 for a violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act after a young worker was injured.

On August 25, 2011, summer students working for the Town were repairing the lids of catch basins, which are the parts of storm drains used to collect debris. One worker lifted the lid of a catch basin with a pickaxe so another worker could apply tape to the basin. While the second worker’s hand was in the basin, the lid slipped from the pickaxe and crushed that worker’s hand.

A Ministry of Labour investigation found that the workers did not have a direct supervisor and they had not been shown how to do the job before. Instead, they received instructions from a manager and were sent to repair the catch basins alone.

The Corporation of the Town of Pelham was fined $60,000 for failing to provide adequate information and instruction to the workers on how to safely repair the catch basins.

The fine was imposed by Justice of the Peace Lena Mills. 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.

My opinion

The law(s) in contravention:

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

“An employer shall,

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

I wonder how badly the hand was injured and, if so, is the injury permanent or not. Regardless, the accident should never have happened.

All these questions would have been avoided if the employer, the Town of Pelham, even considered a set of safe work instructions and possible supervision especially for the new students. This was unacceptable!

The fine could have been much higher and I hope that the Corporation of the Town of Pelham learned their lesson and placed all summer students under direct supervision and ensured adequate training for the entire workforce.

The new training standard is coming in next year. Please ensure that all your workers AND Supervisors are advised about their rights and about all the protection under the law.

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.

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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