Blog Post #883 – Canadian Electrocoating Ltd. Fined $175,000 in Death of Worker

Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’

Canadian Electrocoating Ltd., a manufacturer in the automotive sector, pleaded guilty and has been fined $175,000 in the death of a worker.

The fatality occurred on September 19, 2014 at the company’s facility at 945 Prince Road in Windsor. On that date, three workers were working at a parts table, loading parts onto a rack in an area known as the line load. The production line then moves the loaded parts from the line load area through the painting process.

A forklift operator was in the process of lifting or moving material in the line load area. The forklift operator was accessing material bins in the second row of bins. The materials were nested closely together and were stacked four to five bins high.

As the forklift operator was driving into the second row of stacked bins, the forks were being raised. As they were raised the back rack on the forklift caught an edge of the second-level bin in the first row.

The forklift operator continued raising the forks of the forklift, then realized that bins in the first row were being lifted. The forklift operator immediately began lowering the forks and first-row bins. This non-purposeful lifting and lowering of the bins in the first row caused the stack of bins to wobble.

The first-row bins, stacked from the second to the fifth level, toppled across the forklift aisle in the direction of the line load workstation. The fourth and fifth level bins impacted the workstation of the three workers at the parts table. One of the workers was killed after being struck and pinned beneath the fallen bins, which were full of automotive parts and weighed about1,500 pounds each.

There was no evidence to suggest that the forklift operator had been operating the forklift in a manner that may endanger oneself or another worker; the operator had received training and had a valid certificate.

In this case the materials at the location were tightly nested, leaving very little room for error on the part of a forklift operator and elevating the risk of inadvertent lifting of materials.

The company’s safety rules included the concept of a “fall zone,” or area that would be affected if a load carried by a forklift were to tip, collapse or fall. The company’s rule for those working around a lift truck states that workers should “stay clear of the fall zone; this is a full circle around the lift truck equal to twice the height of the carried load.”

The height of each bin was approximately three feet high, so the stack of five bins was about 15 feet high. Therefore, in order to satisfy the company’s safety rules, the workstation where workers were located should have been at least 30 feet from the stacked bins. At the time of the event, the workstation was 16.5 feet from the stacked bins, placing it directly within the fall zone.

A Ministry of Labour inspector issued an immediate stop-work order to ensure no workers were exposed to the fall zone and when a second location was found with similar hazards, a second order was issued.

The company conducted an assessment to review material handling areas throughout the establishment and completed it three days after the incident.

Canadian Electrocoating Ltd. committed the offence of failing as an employer to ensure this measure was in place. The company pleaded guilty and was fined $175,000 by Justice of the Peace Susan Hoffman in Windsor provincial court on May 25, 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:

Canadian Electrocoating Ltd. was found guilty of a contravention of the Ontario ‘Industrial’ regulation 851/90, section 45(b)(ii) which states,

“Material, articles or things,

(a) required to be lifted, carried or moved, shall be lifted, carried or moved in such a way and with such precautions and safeguards, including protective clothing, guards or other precautions as will ensure that the lifting, carrying or moving of the material, articles or things does not endanger the safety of any worker;

(b) shall be transported, placed or stored so that the material, articles or things,

(i) will not tip, collapse or fall, and

(ii) can be removed or withdrawn without endangering the safety of any worker; and

(c) to be removed from a storage area, pile or rack, shall be removed in a manner that will not endanger the safety of any worker.”

Canadian Electrocoating Ltd. was also found guilty of a contravention of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) section 25, subsection 1(c) which states,

“An employer shall ensure that,

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

Forklift driving is one of the most common type of material handling occupations that occur. There are other types BUT driving a forklift is recognized as an industry leader.

Here we find a company that did not, and maybe could not, complete a hazard risk assessment before the operation was to begin. If one WAS completed, then the operation would have occurred differently. First of all, the area would have been cleared of all non-essential personnel and all aspects of the operation would have been discussed and directed by the supervisor. The 15 ft height of the bins should have been recognized as a hazard and all workers moved back accordingly.

HRS Group Inc. has a comprehensive Forklift training that meets the “Competent Person” definition as laid out in the OHSA. It states,

““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’, ‘Forklift Certification’ and ‘Forklift Re-Certification’. 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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