Excerpt from the Government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’
Hendrickson Canada Ltd., a manufacturer of springs used in heavy trucks, pleaded guilty and was fined $65,000 on December 3, 2009, for a violation under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) after a worker was injured.
On August 1, 2008, at the company’s facility in Stratford, workers were using a welding machine to remove a steel partition attached to the floor. The machine was powered by a chain of three extension cords. The machine was malfunctioning, so one worker turned it off and picked up one of the extension cords to remove it from the chain. While trying to disconnect the cord, the worker was electrocuted and lost consciousness.
A Ministry of Labour investigation found that the electrical cord had caused the electrical shock because it was faulty.
Hendrickson Canada Ltd. pleaded guilty to failing to ensure that the electrical cord was maintained in good condition.
The fine was imposed by Justice of the Peace Robert Gay. 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.
The law(s) in contravention:
Hendrickson was found guilty of violating section 25 of the OHSA, subsection 1(b) which states,
“An employer shall ensure that the equipment, materials and protective devices provided by the employer are maintained in good condition.”
I have watched many companies not understand this basic responsibility. It is one thing to purchase equipment for their staff, it is another thing to make sure it is always in optimum condition.
I have to tell you a story. One particular company I know had 5-6 forklifts with various defects and most, at the same time. The employees were frustrated because the company kept lagging with the repairs and safety was going out the window. The operators were obliged by law to write the defects up every day and the intent of the law was to inform management as soon as possible so corrective action could be prompt. This was not the case. The only way to get the company to adhere to the governmental standards as required by law was to contact the companies own JHSC and make this issue a priority. The company was informed that they were in violation of section 25, 1(b), the same section violated by the company above.
In their case, the company was notified that there 6 violations might cost them $150,000 in fines. (6 X $25,000 max.) The plant manager promptly leased 6 vehicles to replace the defective ones and then returned the units when the old trucks were brought back on-line. At the end of the day, 2 of the old forklifts were scrapped and two of the leased units stayed in the facility.
My purpose of this story is to show that section 25, subsection 1(b) is violated more often than one may think. The employer MUST ensure that the equipment is working all the time, and a two-way information system is in place for worker-management to communicate about the equipment.
Do not wait until an employee is hurt before you find out that your equipment is defective and possibly deadly.
Remember — In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”
HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety need including ‘Lockout and Tagout’. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.
‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.
Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Foundation Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.