Blog Post #205 – Paper Mill Owner-Operator Fined $125,000 after Workers and Student Injured

Excerpt from the Government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’

Abitibi Consolidated Company of Canada, owner and operator of a paper mill in Fort Frances, was fined $125,000 on July 9, 2010, for a violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act that caused injuries to two workers and a student.

On August 20, 2008, two electricians at the paper mill were changing the power box for part of a paper machine. The power to the box was locked out. The power to the cabinet containing the box was not shut off or locked out. As the electricians removed the power box, they noticed a cable inside the cabinet that needed to be moved. One of them reached into the cabinet with a tool to remove a clamp holding the cable in place. The tool made electrical contact with a live conductor inside the cabinet and this created an arc flash. This caused another arc flash from the live conductors overhead.

The two electricians suffered first, second and third degree burns. A student who was watching them suffered first degree burns.

Abitibi Consolidated Company of Canada pleaded guilty to failing to ensure that a tool was not used near a live electrical installation to prevent electrical contact with a live conductor.

The fine was imposed by Justice of the Peace Patricia Clydesdale-Cornell. 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.

Abitibi Consolidated Company of Canada is currently under the protection of the Companies Creditors Arrangement Act. The fine was stayed pending the completion of that matter.

My opinion

The law(s) in contravention:

Abitibi Consolidated Company of Canada was found guilty of violating section 43 of the Ontario ‘Industrial’ regulation 851/90, which states,

“Tools and other equipment that are capable of conducting electricity and endangering the safety of any worker shall not be used in such proximity to any live electrical installation or equipment that they might make electrical contact with the live conductor.”

Here we find another company using what they believe a true lockout and tagout procedure. In all cases, the proper procedure SHOULD have located all secondary power sources and had them isolated prior any work being done. Abitibi needed to have identified the secondary power source, make the secondary source known to the workers prior to entry (preferably at a toolbox pre-meeting). The electricians should have been given lockout and tagout training long before this accident.

LOTO discusses the following;

1) The people going into the area
2) The work being done in the area
3) The time and location of the entry, and
4) Suggested time of completion

A good company would have had a set of instructions (possibly laminated) situated at a conspicuous location where more than one power source to a machine or device has been identified. The worker needs to see this type of management safety support and, I wager, one or both of the electricians hurt in this accident would have been excellent choices to help development the program.

I wager the MOL made it mandatory that the LOTO program and training be updated. No worker should have been hurt. LOTO does identify all power sources and ensures that no work is done prior to total isolation.

By the way, why was the student near enough to watch? Was it an apprentice? If so, does anyone out there get a warm fuzzy for his/her future safety?

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 ‘Electrical Safety’ and ‘Arc Flash’. 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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