Blog Post #613 – Digsafe Inc. Fined $125,000 Worker Killed, Others Injured

Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’

Digsafe Inc., an Ottawa company that provides excavation services, has been fined $125,000 for a violation of Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act after a worker was killed and two others injured while working near power lines.

On March 22, 2012, a Digsafe worker and two other workers employed by another subcontractor were working together on the installation of new hydro poles and wires under existing energized lines on Moodie Drive in Ottawa.

The three workers were excavating a hole when the boom of the vehicle came within three metres of the power lines which were located about 20 feet above the hole. All three workers received electrical shocks, with the Digsafe worker succumbing to his injuries in hospital. The two other workers sought medical attention at the hospital and did not suffer permanent physical injuries. A Ministry of Labour investigation followed.

Digsafe Inc. pleaded guilty to failing, as an employer, to ensure that the boom of the vehicle was not brought within three metres of the energized power line as required by the Occupational Health and Safety Act, and was fined $125,000.

The fine was imposed by Justice of the Peace John Balkwill. 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:

Digsafe Inc. was found guilty of a contravention of section 188, subsection 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.”

a) 750 or more volts, but no more than 150,000 volts, 3 metres

b) 150,000 volts, but no more than 250,000 volts, 4.5 metres

c) 250,000 volts or more, 6 metres

Digsafe Inc. was also found guilty of a contravention of section 25, subsection 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.”

In any construction project, overhead wires are always a constant hazard for mobile and tower crane operators. If the operators received adequate competency training as required under the law, then this type of hazard would have been readily recognized and the accident would never happen.

With this type of accident I wonder if the operator was ever properly trained at all. Probably not! Then the liability would have been on the employer to ensure that the workers received adequate training to protect themselves. The two other workers obviously were never trained or would have pointed out their concerns and maybe issued a section 43, “Work Refusal”. It certainly would have saved the life of their co-worker.

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’, ‘Construction Safety Awareness’, Electrical Safety Awreness’ 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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