Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’
Symtech Innovations Ltd., a construction business in the commercial and industrial sectors, has been fined $90,000 after a worker died following a fall through a skylight.
On February 14, 2012, employees of Symtech were on a job site at 620 Supertest Road, North York, installing solar panels on the rooftop of an industrial building. The rooftop had a large surface area divided down the middle by a row of about 20 skylight openings that had their skylights in place. The skylights looked down into the building through to the main floor, approximately 5 metres below.
A worker employed by Symtech as its acting foreperson at the project site spoke with a co-worker, then turned and began walking toward the north end of the roof. After taking a few steps the worker slipped and reached out to brace the fall on a skylight. The skylight did not support the worker’s weight and the worker fell through it to the floor below, a distance of about five metres. The worker was critically injured by the fall and subsequently died from the resulting injuries about a week later.
An investigation of the incident by the Ministry of Labour revealed that no guardrails or protective coverings were installed around or over any of the skylights on the rooftop as required by law.
Symtech Innovations Ltd. pleaded guilty to failing as an employer to install protective coverings over skylights located on the roof while work was proceeding. The company was fined $90,000 by Judge Geraldine N. Sparrow at the Ontario Court of Justice in Toronto.
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.
The law(s) in contravention:
Symtech Innovations Ltd. was found guilty of a contravention of section 26.3, subsection 2 (2) of the Ontario ‘Construction’ regulation 213/91 which states,
“One of the following precautions shall be used to prevent a worker from falling through an opening on a work surface:
2. A protective covering that,
i. Completely covers the opening;
ii. Is securely fastened;
iii. Is adequately identified as covering an opening;
iv. Is made from material adequate to support all loads to which the covering may be subjected; and
v. Is capable of supporting a live load of at least 2.4 kilonewtons per square metre without exceeding the allowable unit stresses for the material used.”
Symtech Innovations Ltd. was also found guilty of contravention of section 25, subsection 1 (c) of the 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.”
The new ‘Working at Heights’ legislation has already been implemented and over 100,000 workers in the construction sector have been trained. Symtech should have realized that this need to upgrade training in Fall Protection was totally necessary and Symtech should have been better prepared. Too bad for their worker.
I find that the supervisor should have been better trained, thus Symtech was guilty of a contravention of section 25, subsection 2 (c) of the OHSA which states,
“An employer shall,
(c) When appointing a supervisor, appoint a competent person.”
Usually, when monetary restraints are placed on an organization, safety training is one of the first things to go. Ensure your organization understands the need for safety training that is both competent and thorough.
HRS Group Inc. stands ready to aid your organization in both designing and delivering high-end quality training.
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 ‘Fall Protection’, ‘Construction Safety Awareness’ and Working at Heights’. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.
‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.
Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Advanced Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.