Blog Post #620 – Pachecos Contractors Ltd. Fined $55,000

Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’

Pachecos Contractors Ltd., of London, a sewer and water-main contractor, has been fined $55,000 for a violation of Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act after a worker was critically injured at a construction project at a high school.

On June 26, 2012, workers were performing directional drilling on the site near Regina Mundi Catholic College, a high school on Wellington Road South that is part of the London District Catholic School Board, when the pipe they were installing underground became stuck. To pull it out the workers attached a pull-head to one end. The pull-head is a device with concentric jaws at one end which is inserted into a pipe so that the other end protrudes; the outer end of the pull-head is turned to expand the concentric jaws against the inside of the pipe to connect with it and enable pulling the pipe out.

In this instance, the workers attached the pull-head to the pipe, then attached a three-foot chain to the outer part of the pull-head. The chain was attached to the pull-head with an open hook and the other end of the chain was attached to the leading edge of the bucket of a backhoe. One worker was using the backhoe to pull the chain and pull-head, which in turn would pull the pipe out of the hole.

While doing so, the pipe snapped at the point where it was attached to the pull-head and the pull-head and chain were flung backwards, slipping off the hook attaching the chain to the backhoe. The chain and pull-head were thrown into the cab of the backhoe where the worker was located.

The worker was struck on the head and suffered extensive injuries.

Pachecos Contractors Ltd. pleaded guilty to failing, as an employer, to ensure that the hooks attaching the chain to the pull-head and to the backhoe were equipped with safety catches as required by the Occupational Health and Safety Act, and was fined $55,000.

The fine was imposed by Justice of the Peace Charles D. Anderson. 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:

Pachecos Contractors Ltd. was found guilty of a contravention of section 173, subsection 1 of the Ontario ‘Construction’ regulation 213/91 which states,

“Every hoisting hook shall be equipped with a safety catch.”

Pachecos Contractors Ltd. 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,

“The employer shall ensure,

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

The term ‘Common Sense’ has been used so much lately that there is a need to show the readership that people always seem to miss a few steps and common sense goes out the window with the bath water.

Here we find an employer that does not ensure that the workers inspect the equipment prior to the operation. Lifting and rigging has its own section in the ‘Ontario’ construction regulation 213/91 has a large section called “Cables, Slings and Rigging” and it covers section 168 to 180 and all construction employers MUST ensure it has been read and followed.

Pachecos Contractors Ltd. found out too late and it cost them! Protect your workers by using common sense and follow the Act and regulations to the letter.

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 Lifting and Rigging’ 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
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.

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