Blog Post #874 – Schmolz & Bickenbach Canada Inc. Fined $100,000 After Worker Injured

Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’

Schmolz + Bickenbach Canada Inc., an international manufacturer, producer and distributor of steel products, pleaded guilty and has been fined $100,000 after a worker suffered injuries that resulted in amputation.

On September 11, 2014, a worker employed as a truck driver by a different, but related, steel company was assigned to pick up a steel slab from the defendant’s plant on at 6350 Vipond Drive and drive it back to the direct employer’s location in Brampton. A shipper receiver was on the site readying the 23,800-pound steel slab for transport. That worker used a 44-ton Demag crane with an attached electromagnet to pick up the steel slab and direct it through the plant to the back of the truck. The truck driver was standing on the back of the truck to help maneuver the steel slab into position and intended to use wood blocks and chains on the flatbed to secure the slab.

When the slab was in position over the truck’s flatbed, it unexpectedly dropped from the electromagnet before it was released by the shipper. The slab fell a distance of two to three feet onto the flatbed, causing the truck driver to fall off the back of the truck onto the concrete floor.

The driver was rushed to hospital suffering from fractures. The critical injury, along with complications that included infection, resulted in an amputation.

It was later determined that the electromagnet had lost power because it had become unplugged and disconnected from its power outlet. It was further determined that the night before, on September 10, 2014, the same electromagnetic crane had accidentally become disconnected from its power source, causing a suspended steel lab to detach and fall in the same fashion. The company’s policies required pre-incident checks of cranes and electromagnets before each use and a lockout procedure if any safety concern respecting a crane or electromagnet existed. Although a prompt request was made for maintenance to examine the machinery the next morning, the electromagnet lifting device was not immediately taken out of service.

The defendant failed to take the reasonable precaution of immediately taking an electromagnetic lifting device out of service after it accidentally disconnected from its power source causing a suspended steel slab to detach and fall on September 10, 2014.

The company pleaded guilty to failing to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker and was fined $100,000 by Justice of the Peace Jeannie Anand in Mississauga court on April 19, 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:

Schmolz + Bickenbach Canada Inc. was found guilty of a contravention of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), section 25(2)(h) which states,

“An employer shall,

(h) take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker.”

Where was the supervisor in all this? Section 27, subsection 1(a) of the OHSA states,

“A supervisor shall ensure that a worker,

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

The supervisor MUST be competent to complete section 27, subsections 2 (a)(b)(c) which state,

“A supervisor shall,

(a) 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;

(b) where so prescribed, provide a worker with written instructions as to the measures and procedures to be taken for protection of the worker; and

(c) take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker.”

The reader must be knowledgeable by now on the competency standards listed in the “definitions” section of the OHSA.

“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;

By the way, did you notice that the employer AND supervisor have the same responsibility?

Check out section 25, subsection 2(h) and section 27, subsection 2 (c).

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’, ‘Overhead Crane Certification’ 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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