Blog Post #555 – Forklift Operator Fined after Young Worker Injured At Summer Job

Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’

A worker was found guilty and fined $2,000 for operating a forklift in a manner than injured a young worker. The young worker suffered significant injuries.

On August 12, 2010, workers were cleaning a drywall warehouse at the Rona Cashway Building Centre in North Bay and were using a forklift to help them organize materials. A young worker on the team approached the forklift and walked behind it. The forklift operator reversed the forklift towards the young worker and was not aware of the young worker’s proximity. The forklift struck the young worker, causing bone fractures and nerve damage.

The forklift operator, Patrick Murphy of North Bay, was found guilty as a worker of using or operating equipment or working in a manner that endangered himself or other workers, and was fined $2,000.
The Quebec owner, operator and employer, Rona Cashway, also known as 4536631 Canada Inc., pleaded guilty at a separate hearing on March 30, 2012 to failing to ensure that barriers, warning signs or other safeguards were in place to protect workers in an area where vehicular traffic may endanger a worker, and was fined $65,000.

The fine ordered against Mr. Murphy was imposed by Justice of the Peace Sharon B. Roberson. 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:

Patrick Murphy was found guilty of a contravention of section 28, subsection 2,(b) of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) which states,

“No worker shall,

(b) Use or operate any equipment, machine, device or thing or work in a manner that may endanger himself, herself or any other worker.”

I am a forklift trainer (as well as a trainer of many other courses) and the need for the operator to have a clear view of the path of travel means that he/she MUST be looking in that direction. The operator is supposed to be trained to understand that he/she completes a 360 degree before going backwards. The onus is on the operator to always know where pedestrians are in the area. Pedestrians always have “Right of Way!”

This is one of the first blog posts of mine dealing with charges to a forklift operator. It seems that most operators DO understand his/her responsibilities and take care when driving their machines, especially reversing in congested areas.

‘Due Diligence’ on behalf of the employer demands that all infractions caught by either the supervisor or the employer MUST be dealt with by using the company’s progressive disciplinary program. This is the company’s ‘Get Out of Jail’ card. If the company had handled previous infractions harshly, I wonder if this particular accident would have happened at all!

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 ‘Forklift Certification’ and ‘Forklift Re-Certification’. 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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