Blog Post #63 – Sigfusson Northern Ltd. Fined $50,000 After Worker Injured

Excerpts From the Government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’

Sigfusson Northern Ltd., a Kenora heavy construction company, was fined $50,000 on February 12, 2010, for a violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) that caused an injury to a worker.

On September 14, 2008, workers were drilling and blasting rocks on the site for a new road in Marathon. One of the workers started to change the drill bit on a rock drill while it was running. The worker’s arm got tangled in the drill. A second worker tried pressing an emergency stop button on the drill, but it did not work. A third worker used a control lever to stop the drill. The first worker sustained a broken arm.

A Ministry of Labour investigation found that none of the three emergency shut-off switches on the rock drill were functional.

Sigfusson Northern Ltd. pleaded guilty to failing to ensure the rock drill was not used while it was defective or hazardous.

The fine was imposed by Justice of the Peace Bruce Leaman. 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:

Sigfusson Northen Ltd. was in contravention of section 93, subsection (2)(a) of the ‘construction’ regulation 213/91 which states,

“No vehicle, machine, tool or equipment shall be used, while it is defective or hazardous”.

The company should have, as a policy, a schedule for maintenance on all of their material and equipment. This schedule should be made part of any relevant health and safety plan and must monitored regularly.

It seems that this type of accident was going to happen and it was just a matter of time.

Sigfusson Northern Ltd. could also have been charged under the ACT, section 25 subsection (1)(b),

“An employer shall ensure that the material, equipment and protective devices provided by the employer are maintained in good condition.”

The supervisor was also in violation of section 27 of the ACT, subsection (2)(c)

“The supervisor shall take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of the worker.”

A competent supervisor is needed, one that knows that hazards associated with whatever work is being done. In this case, I wonder if the workers are encouraged to report to the supervisor or the contractor, any defect or contravention of the ACT as required by law in section 28.

A competent supervisor would know that and be aware that he/she is responsible for the health and safety of the worker and make every attempt to encourage the worker to report.

The defective equipment was obviously is disrepair for quite a while and no line of communication was open to notify anyone.

The company policy for this type of issue is the ‘TAG‘ and ‘REPORT’ scenario. Once the defective equipment has been identified, the company should have a tag made for just this purpose. The worker needs to know this procedure, usually through the orientation process, to tag the equipment. It is also the responsibility of the worker to make sure the defective equipment has been taken out of service to be repaired.

It is obvious that this company did not seem to mind that their people were working with defective equipment. They sure found out the cost of not running their business safely.

HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs including “Due Diligence”. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.

We can also be reached at

Remember — In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Foundation Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.

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