Blog Post #864 – Death of Worker Results in Fines to Oskam Welding and Supervisor

Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’

Following guilty pleas, Oskam Welding (2014) Ltd. and one of its supervisors, Chad Wheeler, have been fined a combined total of $130,000 after a worker was killed in a fall from the structure the worker was assembling.

On July 3, 2014, workers employed by the welding and machining business were on the job site, an industrial establishment located at 65 Independence Place in Guelph. Oskam was hired to install two mezzanine structures at level 2 and level 3. The six-month construction project had started the week before the incident.

The metal plates used to form the floor of the mezzanine weigh between 300 to 500 pounds and measure about 10 feet by four feet. The plates were hoisted one at a time to the mezzanine level by a mobile crane operated on the ground by an Oskam worker, with another worker at ground level responsible for rigging the load to the crane. Two workers, including the deceased, were standing on the mezzanine structure to receive and place the steel plates into position to form the deck.

Workers on the mezzanine platform were wearing fall protection harnesses and lanyards; however, as fall protection anchor points had not been installed (and as such, lifelines were not in use), the workers could not adequately secure themselves from falling while standing on the mezzanine platform.

On the day of the incident, about 10 plates had been hoisted to the level 2 mezzanine and had been placed by two workers. However, at the time of the incident, the deceased was alone on the platform as the co-worker had left to use the restroom. The deceased gave a signal to the crane operator to lower the load over an opening in the floor deck. Workers who were in the area heard sounds that appeared to indicate the deceased was using a pry bar to position the plate just prior to falling.

The worker fell to the ground about 13 feet below; the plate being positioned also fell and struck the worker. Emergency services personnel were summoned but the worker succumbed to the injuries.

The subsequent Ministry of Labour investigation found that no guardrails were present at the edges of the mezzanines or at the edge of the openings in the work surface on the mezzanine on level 2; the mezzanine at level 2 was more than three metres from ground level; and no anchor points were provided on the mezzanines to allow workers to tie off and be protected from falling. Both mezzanines at level 2 and 3 were being assembled in the same fashion.

These all resulted in violations of Ontario Regulation 213/91, the Construction Projects Regulation. In part, one requirement of the regulation states that should it not be reasonably possible to install a guardrail system, workers shall be adequately protected by at least one prescribed method of fall protection.

Oskam failed to ensure workers were protected from the hazard of falling as required by the regulation and therefore violated the Occupational Health and Safety Act and was fined $125,000. The company’s supervisor on the worksite, Chad Wheeler, also failed to comply with this section of the regulation and was fined $5,000.

Justice of the Peace Michael Cuthbertson accepted guilty pleas and fined the company and supervisor in Guelph court on March 18, 2016.

In addition to the fines, 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:

Oskam Welding was found guilty of a contravention of the Ontario ‘Construction’ sector regulation 213/91, sections 26.1, subsection 2 which states,

“If it is not practicable to install a guardrail system as that subsection requires, a worker shall be adequately protected by the highest ranked method that is practicable from the following ranking of fall protection methods:

  1. A travel restraint system that meets the requirements of section 26.4.
  2. A fall restricting system that meets the requirements of section 26.5.
  3. A fall arrest system, other than a fall restricting system designed for use in wood pole climbing, that meets the requirements of section 26.6.
  4. A safety net that meets the requirements of section 26.8.”

Oskam Welding was also found guilty of a violation 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.”

Chad Wheeler, a supervisor at Oskam Welding was found guilty of a contravention of the OHSA, section 27, subsection (1)(a) which states,

“A supervisor shall,

  • advise a worker of the existence of any potential or actual danger to the health or safety of the worker of which the supervisor is aware.”

The supervisor plays a very big role in the day-to-day work and the worker(s) under his/her direct supervision must be able to work in a safe environment. I believe the supervisor, in this case, forgot that particular message.

All aspects of the work need to have a set of written instructions and a completed hazard assessment prior to any work is to be done. If Oskam had known that then, possibly, this accident may not have happened and the worker could still be alive today.

I bet they know that now.

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’, ‘Fall Protection’ and Working at Heights’. 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
HRSGroup Inc.

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