Blog Post #175 – Smith Steel and Director Fined $36,000 Total for Failing To Comply With Order

Excerpt from the Government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’

Smith Steel & Fabrication Inc. pleaded guilty and was fined $28,000 on December 3, 2009, for a violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) after failing to comply with an order. Leonard Eagle, director of the company, was fined $8,000.

On September 27, 2007, a Ministry of Labour inspector visited the company’s workplace in Atwood. The inspector noticed that isocyanates, designated substances under the Act, were being used without completion of an assessment, and without the proper controls in place. The inspector issued a stop use order. The inspector issued another stop use order in November 2007. In May 2008, the inspector learned the company had used isocyanates in violation of the stop use orders.

Smith Steel & Fabrication Inc. pleaded guilty to failing to comply with the orders of an inspector. Leonard Eagle pleaded guilty to failing, as a director, to take all reasonable care to ensure that the corporation complied with the orders of an inspector.

The fines were imposed by Justice of the Peace Robert Gay. In addition to the fines, 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:

Smith Steel and Fabrication Ltd. was found guilty of a contravention of section 66, subsection 1(b) of the OHSA which states,

“Every person who contravenes or fails to comply with,

(b) an order or requirement of an inspector or a Director , is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine of not more than $25,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than twelve months, or to both.”

Leonard Eagle, the director for Smith Steel and Fabrication Ltd. was found guilty of violating section 32, subsection (b) of the OHSA which states,

“Every director and every officer of a corporation shall take all reasonable care to ensure that the corporation complies with,

(a) this ACT and the regulations,
(b) orders and requirements of inspectors and Directors, and
(c) orders from the Minister.

Boy, did they get off lucky! Please tell me why the fine wasn’t at least twice that for violating Ontario regulation 842 — designated substance, Isocyanates ALONE! As one of the 11 designated substances, (12 regulations as asbestos has 2) there must be a plan and strict adherence to that plan is a must. Do we need another Bhopal catastrophe? Ask Union Carbide. It was all about Isocyanates.

Part of the plan, as an example, section 4, subsection 4 and 5 of the Ontario regulation 842 reads,

“the time-weighted average exposure of a worker to the Isocyanates mentioned in subsection(1) shall be calculated in accordance with the Schedule and the result of the calculation of the exposure may be certified by an inspector” and

“Every worker shall work in compliance with the work practices and hygiene practices in accordance with the provisions of the Isocyanates control program.”

If the MOL had wanted to, they may have added OHSA section 25, subsection 2(h) which states,

“The employer shall do everything reasonable in the circumstance for the protection of the worker.”

Yes, after the Bhopal accident, is it any wonder why the controls MUST be in place and the employer must develop and apply all controls to protect their workers.

In my opinion, Leonard Eagle needs his head examined. Putting the company ahead of the worker’s safety, how many laws did he want to violate before the MOL came calling. I hope he is not too disappointed with the fines. In my opinion, the violations of the stop work order, alone, deserved jail time and a much heftier fine.

I thought this type of management went out in the latter part of the 80s or the beginning of the 90s. It is disheartening to see it still exists and workers lives are being put at risk. I wonder if any of the workers have been exposed enough to have shorten their life, even a small bit. I would be interested to see this one through in the future.

Oh yes, Leonard Eagle, ignorance of the law is no defence.

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 ‘Designated Substances Safety Awareness’. 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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