Blog Post #193 – Nelco Mechanical Limited Fined $65,000 after Worker Injured

Excerpt from the Government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’

Nelco Mechanical Limited, a Kitchener company that installs and maintains heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) units, was fined $65,000 on April 28, 2010 for a violation under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) after a worker was injured.

On May 26, 2008, two Nelco workers were using a crane to remove an HVAC unit from the roof of a Toronto business. A few days earlier, Nelco’s site supervisor told the workers that the power to the HVAC unit was disconnected. The workers attached the unit to the crane and started to lift it when they noticed the power cable was still attached. Believing that the cable was de-energized, one of the workers used sheet metal cutters to cut it. The worker was electrocuted, lost consciousness and collapsed.

A Ministry of Labour investigation found that the unit’s power supply had not been disconnected. The voltage of the cable was 600 volts.

Nelco Mechanical Limited pleaded guilty to failing to ensure the power supply to the HVAC unit was disconnected, locked out of service and tagged before, and while, any work was done.

The fine was imposed by Justice of the Peace Joanna T. Opalinski. 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:

Nelco Mechanical Limited was found guilty of violating section 190 (4) of the Ontario’s ‘Construction’ regulation 213/91 which states,

“An employer shall ensure that the power supply to the electrical equipment, installation or conductor shall be disconnected, locked out of service and tagged before the work begins, and kept disconnected, locked out of service and tagged while the work continues.”

HRS Group teaches many different courses including lockout/tagout. One of the first courses a trades person is given discusses the locking out and tagging of the electrical power, as well as all other types of secondary power, before the work is ever started.

The primary source is usually a power panel of some kind and then there are hydraulic, pneumatic, pressurized lines or whatever is still powering the system and aim for “zero energy’ state.

There are five types of hazardous energy and they are:

1) Electrical
2) Chemical
3) Kinetic
4) Thermal Radiation
5) Pressure

The problem is the workplace is complacency. Someone not trained in lockout and tagout would have assumed the line was de-energized. The perfect time for an accident! Right?

A few lockout and tagout misconceptions are:

1) It only involves electricity
2) It only involves maintenance personnel
3) It only involves having the guarding in place
4) It only involves ensuring the power has been turned off

A few secondary sources of energy may be:

1) Electrical feedback from other sources
2) Static electrical power
3) Stored compressed air systems
4) Hydraulic power systems
5) Piped-in fluids and gases
6) Potential mechanical movement
7) Spring pressure

As you can see, there is much to consider about lockout and tagout. All employees in and around the maintenance of equipment require the proper training. Never assume someone has lockout out the system. If you do not apply a lock to the system, then you are not allowed, by law, to enter. Many companies have a sub-committee for the JHSC just to deal with lockout and tagout. It is that important!


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.

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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