Blog Post #533 – Company and Owner Fined $48,000 after Power Line Contact

Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’

Network Site Services Inc., a sub-contracting company hired to erect street lighting, and its owner, Donald Medeiros of Cambridge, have been fined a total of $48,000 for violations of the Occupational Health and Safety Act because of ‘Power Line Contact’.

On October 4, 2010, workers were installing street lamp posts on a project located at Timber Creek Crescent in Cambridge. Two workers were placing a lamp post into an excavation when the post struck overhead power lines, causing the system ground neutral conductor to be burned and severed. There were no injuries to the workers.

A Ministry of Labour investigation found that there were no written procedures for the placement of the posts, nor had the workers received adequate training about working with overhead power lines. Regulation 213/91 states that no object should be brought within 3 metres of energized overhead electrical power lines. The Occupational Health and Safety Act states that employers must ensure that Regulations are followed and that every officer of a corporation must take all reasonable care to ensure that the corporation complies with the act and its regulations.

The company and owner pleaded guilty and were fined $40,000 and $8,000 respectively. Both defendants had prior convictions.

The fine was imposed by Justice of the Peace Michael A. Cutherbertson. 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:

Network Sites Services Inc. was found guilty of violating section 188, sub-section 2 of the Ontario ‘Construction’ regulation 213/91 which states,

“No object shall be brought closer to an energized overhead electrical conductor with a nominal phase-to-phase voltage rating set out in Column 1 of the Table to this subsection than the distance specified opposite to it in Column 2.

Column 1                                                                    Column 2
Nominal phase-to-phase voltage rating                                   Minimum distance
750 or more volts, but less than 150,000 volts                               3 metres
150,000 volts, but less than 250,000 volts                                   4.5 metres
more than 250,000 volts                                                                     6 metres

The company was also found guilty of a contravention of section 25, sub-section 1(c) of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) which states,

“An employer shall ensure that,

(c) the measures and procedures prescribed are carried out in the workplace.”

Donald Medeiros, the owner of the business, was found guilty of violating section 32, sub-section (a) which states,

“Every director and every officer of a corporation shall take all reasonable care to ensure that the corporation complies with,

(a) this Act and the regulations.”

It is not just important for a company to understand its own business, but it also needs to understand the safety laws and regulations that apply to that business. ‘Power Line Contact’ is a real danger on many job sites!

Here we have a company driven for profit competing for new business and continually put their employees at risk. It was important for the Ministry of Labour to ensure that the owner of the business, Donald Medeiros, was also made accountable for this issue.

There are four sectors that deal with the most businesses in use today.

They are; 1) Construction, 2) Industrial, 3) Mining, and 4) Healthcare.

All have sections pertaining to the safe proximity to overhead power lines. The standards are there for everyone and must be adhered to. I’m still baffled by the fact that people are still placed in danger because of a simple safety step that was not initiated by their company.

Good for the Ministry of Labour for taking the initiative by fining the owner. The message starts from them and finishes with them.

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 ‘Electrical Safety Awareness’ and ‘Lockout and Tagout’. 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 – Advanced Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.

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