Blog Post #866 – Hydro Ottawa Fined $225,000 After Worker Killed

Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’

Hydro Ottawa Ltd. has been found guilty and fined $225,000 following a trial after one worker was killed and two others suffered injuries.

On March 22, 2012, workers employed by a sub-contractor were engaged in the installation of new hydro poles and wires under existing energized lines on Moodie Drive south of Fallowfield Road in Ottawa. Three workers were excavating a hole when the boom of a work vehicle came within three metres (9.84 feet) of a power line which was located about 20 feet (6.09 metres) above the hole. All three workers received electrical shocks, with one worker succumbing to the injuries at the hospital. The two other workers sought medical attention at the hospital and did not suffer permanent physical injuries. A Ministry of Labour investigation followed the incident.

After a trial, Hydro Ottawa Ltd. was found guilty, as a constructor, of violating three sections of the Constructions Projects Regulation. These were:

  • failing to ensure the boom of a vehicle was not brought within three metres of an energized overhead conductor of 750 or more volts;
  • failing to ensure a competent worker designated as a signaler was stationed so as to be in full view of an operator and had a clear view of the electrical conductor and of the vehicle, to warn the operator every time any part of the vehicle or other equipment may approach the minimum distance; and
  • failing to take every reasonable precaution to prevent hazards to workers from energized electrical equipment, installation and conductors.

Hydro Ottawa was fined $225,000 in provincial court by Justice of the Peace Brian Mackey on March 29, 2016.

On November 12, 2013, a sub-contractor and co-defendant, Digsafe Inc. of Ottawa, pleaded guilty in relation to the incident and was ordered by Justice of the Peace John Balkwill to pay a fine of $125,000.

In both cases, 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:

Hydro Ottawa Ltd. was found guilty of contraventions of three sections of the Ontario ‘Construction’ regulation 213/91.

Listed below are the three sections:

Section 183, which states,

Every reasonable precaution shall be taken to prevent hazards to workers from energized electrical equipment, installations and conductors.”

Section 188, subsection (2) which 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.”

Section 188, subsection (8) which states,

“A competent worker, designated as a signaller, shall be stationed so that he or she is in full view of the operator and has a clear view of the electrical conductor and of the vehicle or equipment, and shall warn the operator each time any part of the vehicle or equipment or its load may approach the minimum distance.”

Digsafe Inc., a subcontractor was found guilty of a contravention of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) section 23, subsection 1(a) which states,

“A constructor shall ensure, on a project undertaken by the constructor that,

  • the measures and procedures prescribed by this Act and the regulations are carried out on the project.”

Wow, this was just too much to believe could have happened. The electrical MSAD (minimum safe approach distance) charts are listed in all of the sector regulations. The chart is used to let those working in or around high voltage lines how far away to be.

I guess Ottawa Hydro Inc. was not aware. Digsafe Inc., definitely, was not aware of their responsibilities and an employee died.

Please ensure that all workers dealing with high voltage know that there is a minimum safe distance for them. Take care to check for changes in weather conditions (high winds) that may allow workers to be inside the danger zone.

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’, ‘MSAD’ 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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