Blog Post #794 – 407 East Constructor Fined $50,000 After Equipment Contacts Overhead Power Line

Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’

The companies building the Highway 407 East extension have pleaded guilty and have been given a fine of $50,000 after equipment being used by a worker made contact with energized power lines.

Two companies – SNC-Lavalin Construction (Ontario) Inc., and Ferrovial-Agroman Canada Inc. – are general partners under the business name 407 East Construction General Partnership. The partnership is constructing the new Highway 407 East at locations in Ajax, Whitby and Oshawa.

On January 21, 2014, a subcontractor was performing site preparation work with heavy equipment on part of the project located at Country Lane and Access Road in Whitby.

An excavator operator employed by the subcontractor drove the excavator along Access Road toward Country Lane. As the excavator approached Country Lane, the boom of the excavator made contact with energized overhead power lines. No one was injured but the contact resulted in a local power outage.

A Ministry of Labour investigation revealed that the voltage of the energized overhead power lines was 13.7 kV. The investigation also revealed that no signs warning workers about the potential hazard of energized overhead power lines were posted at this part of the project.

The 407 East Construction General Partnership failed as a constructor to ensure that prescribed measures and procedures were carried out on the project – specifically by failing to ensure that there were signs posted notifying workers of the potential hazard from overhead power lines at Country Road and Access Road in Whitby.

407 East Construction General Partnership pleaded guilty on June 2, 2015 at the Whitby Provincial Offences court with the $50,000 fine imposed by Justice of the Peace Carol A. Allison.

My opinion

The law(s) in contravention:

The 407 East Construction General Partnership was found guilty of a contravention of section 44, subsection (1) of the Ontario ‘Construction’ regulation 213/91 which states,

“Signs meeting the requirements of subsection (2) shall be posted in prominent locations and in sufficient numbers to warn workers of a hazard on a project.”

The 407 East Construction General Partnership was also found guilty of a contravention of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, (OHSA), section 25(1)(c) which states,

“An employer shall ensure that,

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

Any time a project is to start, a hazard assessment must be completed first. Such things as trip hazards, fall hazards, collision hazards and electrocution hazards, just to name a few, have to be identified, assessed and controlled prior to any work being done. A large group such as this one should have known better.

Isn’t there a lot of value in letting contractors, subcontractors and their workers know of the potential for harm and the controls that are in place to prevent the harm?

Section 188 of the ‘Construction’ regulation 213/91, subsection 2 also 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.” (Please review)

Section 188, subsections 4 and 5 state,

“A constructor shall,

(a) establish and implement written measures and procedures adequate to ensure that no part of a vehicle or equipment or its load encroaches on the minimum distance permitted by subsection (2); and
(b) make a copy of the written measures and procedures available to every employer on the project.

(5) The written measures and procedures shall include taking the following precautions to protect workers:

1. Adequate warning devices, visible to the operator and warning of the electrical hazard, shall be positioned in the vicinity of the hazard.
2. The operator shall be provided with written notification of the electrical hazard before beginning the work.
3. A legible sign, visible to the operator and warning of the potential electrical hazard, shall be posted at the operator’s station.”

As the reader can see, the employer/constructor has a lot to consider before any work is to be performed. THAT is the law!

Ensure your workplace is a safe place.

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’, ‘Electrical Safety Awareness’ 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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