Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’
A worker, employed by GF Rebar Inc. of London, Ontario, a company that designs, fabricates and installs concrete reinforcing steel (rebar) and wire mesh for construction projects, was struck and injured by material that fell off a trailer during the loading process (2018); another worker suffered a permanent injury while processing material in a machine (2019).
On December 7, 2018 a worker was using an overhead crane to load bundles of rebar onto a flatbed trailer. The worker performed the task while standing on the floor, operating a pendant device to control the crane.
The flatbed trailer being loaded is called a gooseneck trailer because of its shape. It was parked inside the company’s facility alongside another trailer. About 22 inches separated these trailers.
The bundles of steel rebar being loaded varied in size. Some bundles included long rebar that exceeded the length of the trailer’s 26-foot flatbed portion. As a result, a portion of these bundles rested, at an incline, on the gooseneck of the trailer.
The worker was operating the remote device to place a fourth bundle of bent steel rebar on the trailer and was standing between the trailers near the gooseneck section. While moving this bundle into place, two bundles fell off the trailer towards the worker.
The bundles that fell consisted of rebars which varied in length between about nine to 30 feet. The total weight of the two bundles was 950 pounds.
The worker attempted to jump out of the way but was unable to be completely clear of the falling load and was struck on the hands by the longer rebar pieces. The worker was taken to hospital.
The company violated section 45(b) of the Regulation for Industrial Establishments (Regulation 851/90) by failing to ensure material was placed or stored so that the material would not tip, collapse or fall, and violated section 25(1)(c) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA). The company was fined $30,000 by the court.
On January 11, 2019, a worker was assigned by supervisor Todd McLean to work with two colleagues and process rebar into a specific shape.
A machine called a rotary bender was regularly used to bend straight pieces of rebar at various angles. Because of the length of the rebar, it is manually fed between rollers. Though multiple workers are needed to handle the rebar, this machine is operated by a single worker with the use of foot-activated controls.
The machine was equipped with a leveling pad about six inches long on which material would rest immediately before being fed or drawn between the rollers. The original leveling pad had been worn down, so a 13-inch scrap piece of metal which rested on the worn pad was being regularly used with this machine. This scrap piece of metal was not secured in place.
At the time of the incident, the worker was feeding a rebar into the machine by hand and was adjusting a levelling plate located in front of the rollers on the bender table because it had started to shift. This plate was not fastened to the table and was moving.
It was during this process that the worker was pulled by the rebar into a pinch point. This area was not equipped with a guard. The worker suffered critical injuries.
During the summer of 2018, Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development inspectors visited this workplace twice and issued a total of 18 orders requiring equipment to be equipped with guarding or requiring the existing guarding to be properly maintained. The orders issued related to equipment including bending machines located inside the building. The ministry did not issue orders for, and did not specifically inspect, the equipment located in the yard.
AGF complied with all orders for the machines located inside its establishment but did not provide or install guards for the bender machine being used in the yard.
The company and its supervisor failed to comply with section 24 of Regulation 851/90 by ensuring the machine was equipped with a guard or a device to prevent access to an exposed moving part that could endanger a worker and thereby did violate, respectively, sections 25(1)(c) and 27(1)(a) of the OHSA.
The date of conviction was October 30, 2020. Following guilty pleas, AGF – Rebar Inc. was fined a total of $95,000 and a supervisor, Todd McLean, was fined $2,000 in provincial offences court in London by Justice of the Peace Kristine M. Diaz; Crown Counsel Line Forestier.
The court also 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.
The law(s) in contravention:
AGF – Rebar Inc. was found guilty of a contravention of the Ontario ‘Industrial’ regulation 851/90, section 45, subsection (b) which states,
Material, articles or things,
(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.
AGF – Rebar was also found guilty of a contravention of the ‘Industrial’ regulation 851/90, section 24 which states,
Where a machine or prime mover or transmission equipment has an exposed moving part that may endanger the safety of any worker, the machine or prime mover or transmission equipment shall be equipped with and guarded by a guard or other device that prevents access to the moving part.
These two convictions also were in 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.”
Supervisor Todd LcLean was found guilty of a contravention of the OHSA, section 27, 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;
I was very surprised that the fines were as low as they were. The crane accident should have never happened if the operator was properly trained on the safe loading and unloading of equipment. The regulation 851/90 has a section that states that only a competent person can use a lifting device. I would suggest to the reader that this was not the case.
The second incident was even more disturbing because “Machine Guarding” if the number 1 hazard in the Industrial sector, in Ontario, today. Far and away the #1! I would wager that the workers have not received training on machine guarding either. Not to worry! The MOL is well trained and will ensure, before they finally left the investigation, that the employees will better able to recognize safety hazards in the workplace.
‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.
Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Advanced Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.