Blog Post #735 – Ritz Architectural Systems Inc. Fined $60,000 after Two Workers Injured

Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’

Ritz Architectural Systems Inc., a supplier and installer of metal cladding, roofing and panel systems for buildings, has been fined $60,000 after two workers were injured in a fall from scaffolding.

On September 28, 2012, two employees were installing fascia and soffits on a building under construction at 370 Tower Hill Road in Richmond Hill. The workers were working from a scaffold which was mounted on wheels and supplied for their use by their employer.

The wheels on the scaffold were equipped with a locking mechanism on each wheel. The workers tried to engage the locking mechanisms before getting on the scaffold but three of the four locking mechanisms were not in working order and would not engage. In addition, the scaffold sat on a slight decline.

While the workers were standing on the scaffold, it rolled off the sidewalk, tipping over with both workers on it. Each worker was critically injured as a result and suffered broken bones.

Ritz Architectural Systems Inc. pleaded guilty to failing as an employer to ensure that the measures and procedures prescribed by law in the Construction Regulation were carried out in the workplace. The legislation (Ontario Regulation 213/91) requires that scaffolds mounted on castors or wheels must have suitable braking devices on each wheel and have the brakes applied when a worker is on the scaffold; the legislation also provides for other safety rules such as the use of guy wires to prevent tipping and full body harness, depending on the circumstances.

The company was fined $60,000 by Justice of the Peace Roberto Zito in Newmarket court on December 8, 2014.

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:

Ritz Architectural Systems Inc. was found guilty of a contravention of section 129, subsections 1, 2, 3 of the Ontario ‘Construction’ regulation 213/91 which states,

“(1) A scaffold mounted on castors or wheels,

(a) Shall be equipped with a suitable braking device on each castor or wheel; and
(b) Shall have the brakes applied when a worker is on the scaffold.

(2) A scaffold mounted on castors or wheels shall be equipped with guy wires or outriggers to prevent its overturning if the height of the scaffold platform exceeds three times the least lateral dimension of the scaffold,

(a) Measured at the base of the scaffold; or
(b) If outriggers are used, measured between the outriggers.

(3) No scaffold mounted on castors or wheels that has a scaffold platform more than 2.4 metres above the base shall be moved when a worker is on it unless,

(a) The worker is wearing a full body harness as part of a fall arrest system attached to a fixed support; and
(b) The scaffold is being moved on a firm level surface.”

Ritz Architectural Systems Inc. was also found guilty of a violation of section 25, subsection 1 (c) of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act which states,

“An employer shall ensure that,

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

There is another section of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) that states that the employer shall ensure that all equipment provided by them is properly maintained in good condition.

There is a section of the Ontario ‘Construction’ regulation 213/91 which states that the equipment must be used as required by the manufacturer.

Obviously, the employer never did read the scaffold manuals to learn about the locking mechanisms of the systems. The employer also did not have anyone trained, including the supervisor, on all the associated hazards with scaffold erection and usage. If Ritz Architectural Systems Inc. would have understood that they needed to identify, assess and control all hazards associated with work being done.

What I am trying to say is that all employers must review the status of their own equipment and encourage their employees to report all suspected hazards ASAP. This is another section of the ACT and must be adhered to.

There was no reason for this type of accident to have happened. Please ensure that your workplace is a safe place.

Remember – In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Advanced Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.

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