Blog Post #855 – Varcon Construction Co. Ltd. Fined $150,000

Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’

Varcon Construction Co. Ltd. pleaded guilty and has been fined $150,000 after a worker was killed by moving equipment on a roadway.

On April 25, 2014, the company was working on a watermain installation project at Chinguacousy Road and Mayfield Road in Brampton. An excavator was removing material and placing it into dump trucks, which were moving on the road with the assistance of a signaler and a paid duty police officer who was directing traffic. In addition, a traffic control plan was in place which included traffic cones.

An equipment operator was asked to retrieve a portable toilet from Creditview Road and Mayfield and to transport it to the intersection of Chinguacousy and Mayfield. The equipment operator strapped the portable toilet to the right-hand side of the bucket of a front-end loader and, with the bucket raised, proceeded to travel in live traffic to the intersection 1.4 km away. The operator stopped on the shoulder of Mayfield Road facing where the toilet was initially to be located and checked in with the crew at this location. The operator communicated with the signaler, who communicated that assistance would be available to stop traffic when the operator wanted to move the vehicle back out again.

The operator was instructed to move the portable toilet to another location, around the corner on Chinguacousy. The operator observed that traffic and trucks were stopped by the police officer and by the Varcon signaler.

Without contacting the signaler further and after briefly checking visually to one side of the vehicle, the operator moved forward around the corner toward the intended drop-off spot. In doing so the equipment struck, ran over and fatally injured one of the workers on the site.

A Ministry of Labour investigation determined that there was a signaler present in the roadway assisting dump trucks, but the equipment operator did not use the assistance of the signaler when moving forward. It was determined that the manner of moving the portable toilet was unsafe due to the placement and location of the portable toilet in the bucket, which restricted the view of the operator. It was also determined that the fatally injured worker had gone into the roadway to move traffic cones so the equipment operator could move forward around the corner as instructed.

The equipment operator either could not see or did not look in the direction of the worker or communicate with workers before moving forward, striking and fatally injuring the worker.

Varcon Construction Co. Ltd. pleaded guilty and was fined $150,000 in Brampton court by Justice of the Peace Milagro Eustaquio-Syme on February 9, 2016.

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:

Varcon Construction Co. Ltd., was found guilty of a contravention of the Ontario ‘Construction’ regulation 213/91, section 71(1) which states,

“Material or equipment at a project shall be stored and moved in a manner that does not endanger a worker.”

Varcon was also found guilty of a contravention of the Ontario 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.”

Why would anyone move a vehicle like this without having a complete view of the path of travel? Really!

Was there ever a ‘tailgate’ meeting prior to the work being done and a hazard assessment completed?

Where was the supervisor in all this? The supervisor failed section 27 of the OHSA, subsection 1(a) which states,

“A supervisor shall ensure that a worker,

(a) works in the manner and with the protective devices, measures and procedures required by this Act and the regulations.”

If the supervisor was not aware of the hazards then he/she was not competent under section 25, subsection 2 (c) which states,

“An employer shall,

(b) when appointing a supervisor, appoint a competent person.”

Mind you, there is a change coming and it reads,

(3) “For the purposes of clause (2)(c), an employer may appoint himself or herself as a supervisor where the employer is a competent person.” There was no one there that was competent.

For those not in the know of the legal definition of the term “Competent Person”, found in the ‘Definitions’ section of the OHSA I will provide it below.

“ “competent person” means a person who,

(a) is qualified because of knowledge, training and experience to organize the work and its performance,
(b) is familiar with this Act and the regulations that apply to the work, and
(c) has knowledge of any potential or actual danger to health or safety in the workplace.”

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’, ‘Traffic Control Person Training’ 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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