Blog Post #151 – Confined Space Death at Sure Fresh Foods Inc.

Excerpt from the OH&S Canada Magazine

In early January, Sure Fresh Foods Inc. entered a single guilty plea for its failure to provide information, instruction and supervision to a worker regarding confined space entry procedures.

A $150,000 fine has been levied against a chicken-processing company in Barrie, Ontario following the death of a worker in April, 2006.

On April 7, 2006, an employee entered an empty 80,000-litre water tank to weld a crack, says a statement from Ontario’s Ministry of Labour (MOL). When the welding torch was ignited, however, an explosion occurred and the worker received third-degree burns. He later died in hospital.

Investigations by the MOL and the Office of the Fire Marshal determined the fuel source for the blast was clear and odourless (naturally occurring methane gas) that likely entered the tank in the water drawn from the employer’s well.

It was further noted that Sure Fresh Foods did not have a confined space policy or an air-monitoring protocol — failures that permitted the explosive buildup of gas to go undetected. As well, the company did not have any written procedures for confined space entry or appropriate testing equipment.

My opinion

The Ontario regulation 632/05 is very explicit when it comes to dealing with confined spaces. There is a long list of issues that must be dealt with prior to any confined space entry.

Below is a list of a few of them:

1) The employer must locate any and all confined spaces;
2) The employer must have a plan to deal with each and every one of them;
3) The employer must make sure to train all those who will be entrants;
4) The employer must train all those who will be attendants;
5) The employer must provide all the necessary safety equipment for entry;
6) The employer shall train all employers in the use of the equipment;
7) The employer shall have fit testing down for employees;
8) The employer shall have air monitoring protocols. The atmosphere of the confined space must be monitored before and during the entry; and
9) All relevant plans need to be reviewed at least once a year.

If there are 20 confined spaces on the company property then there must be 20 plans to deal with them. It is just that simple.

REMEMBER!!! All Confined Space Entries are planned events from start to finish. The employer would do well to have the immediate supervisor conduct a ‘Toolbox’ meeting prior to the actual entry, hopefully identifying issues before they happen. There is enough information out from the MOL and other sources that a CSE does not have to become a deadly event!

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 ‘Confined Space Entry’. 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 – Foundation Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.

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