Blog Post #810 – Powerline Plus Limited Fined $80,000 After Two Workers Suffer Burns

Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’

Powerline Plus Limited, an overhead and underground utility contractor, has pleaded guilty and has been fined $80,000 after two workers suffered burns while working on electrical equipment that had not been properly shut off.

Powerline Plus was under contract to Toronto Hydro when workers arrived at a condominium building at 3900 Yonge Street on February 18, 2014 to continue with on-going underground electrical work. Two workers were instructed by their supervisor to enter an electrical vault to begin preparing termination of conductors that had been pulled into the vault.

The vault contained various energized electrical equipment including step-down transformers and switch gears. The handle on one of the switch gears was in an open position with a blue tag attached indicating that there was work being conducted on the unit. Neither worker was aware that the switch gear continued to be energized and since both workers believed the panel was not live they did not test to see if the panel was energized. No rubber gloves were worn and no barriers were used.

As the workers positioned themselves and began work, there was an arc flash within the switch gear unit and both workers received second- and first-degree burns; one of them also received third-degree burns.

Powerline Plus failed as an employer to ensure that the measures and procedures prescribed by law were carried out, contrary to the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Justice of the Peace Lena Crawford imposed a fine of $80,000 in Toronto court on September 10, 2015.

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:

Powerline Plus was found guilty of a contravention of the Ontario ‘Construction’ reg. 213/91, section 190(4) which states,

“The power supply to the electrical equipment, installation or conductor shall be disconnected, locked out of service and tagged in accordance with subsection (6) before the work begins, and kept disconnected, locked out of service and tagged while the work continues.”

Powerline Plus was also found guilty of a contravention of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act, section 25(1)(c) which states,

“An employer shall ensure that,

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

How simple is it to have lockout and tagout procedures when dealing with any electrical workplace hazards and concerns. Most companies have committees that ensure that lockout and tagout is followed and in need of periodic evaluation to see if there is a need to better the issue. Most company orientation packages have lockout and tagout and an important part.

No one should get hurt or killed due to an electrical injury. If the procedures are robust enough and, followed to the letter, the workplace can deal with any and all electrical concerns.

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’, Lockout and Tagout’ 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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