Blog Post #576 – Trenching Breach Spurs Fine

Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine

A Saskatoon-based construction company received $4,000 in fines on August 10, 2011 after pleading guilty to violating Saskatchewan’s Occupational Health & Safety act.

Allan Construction co. Ltd. was fined $3,200 and must pay an additional $1,200 victim find surcharge for failure to ensure that a worker in a trench was protected from cave-ins or sliding materials by means of cut back or shoring, reports the Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety in Regina.

One count originally laid against Allan construction was stayed, Notes the ministry statement.

The charges follow a routine inspection of an excavation site in Saskatoon.

My opinion

The Ontario construction sector regulation 213/91 deals with excavations in part III. (starts at section 222)

In this part, there are definitions dealing with the following issues,

“Engineered support system”, means an excavation or trench shoring system, designed for a specific project or location, assembled in place and which cannot be moved as a unit;

“Hydraulic support system”, means a system capable of being moved as a unit, designed to resist the earth pressure from the walls of an excavation by applying a hydraulic counter pressure through the struts;

“Prefabricated support system”, means a trench box, trench shield or similar structure, composed of members connected to each other and capable of being moved as a unit, and designed to resist the pressure from the walls of an excavation but does not include a hydraulic support system;

“Pressure”, in relation to a wall of an excavation, means the lateral pressure of the earth on the wall calculated in accordance with generally accepted engineering principles and includes hydrostatic pressure and pressure due to surcharge.

And to ensure compliance with understanding of the previous terms, section 224 of the Ontario ‘Construction’ regulation 213/91 states,

“No person shall enter or be permitted to enter an excavation that does not comply with this Part.”

An excavation can be a very complicated concern. Most workers that have been given proper “excavator” training know most or all of the hazards that are of concern during an excavating procedure, including trenching.

When was the last time you saw an excavation along the highway not using a trench box in a trenching situation? Not bloody often! It just makes good business sense to incorporate health and safety into the day-to-day work.

I was very glad to see this company received a small fine. This was not the end of a bad day, just the end of the inspection process. The Saskatchewan Government may have just saved a life today.

Well done!

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 – Advanced Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.

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