Excerpt from the Government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’

Genco Masonry and Contracting Incorporated, of Niagara Falls, was fined $180,000 on October 22, 2010, for violations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act after a fatal explosion at a worksite. On May 3, 2010, a Genco supervisor was fined $12,000 in relation to the same incident.

On July 30, 2008, the company was doing landscaping work at a residence located on Beechwood Rd. in Niagara Falls. During the course of the work, a propane line was punctured. The propane leached through the surrounding earth and into the homeowner’s basement. The propane exploded in the basement and leveled the home. Two “Molly Maid” workers and a resident were in the house at the time of the explosion. The resident died in the explosion.

A Ministry of Labour investigation found that the company made no effort to have the propane lines marked before the work commenced. The investigation also found that Genco did not advise its employees of the existence of the underground gas line.

Genco Masonry and Contracting Incorporated was found guilty of:

– Failing to ensure that all gas, electrical and other services in the worksite were located, properly marked, and shut off or disconnected where possible.
– Failing to request that the owner of the service be present to supervise the excavation.
– Failing to provide information, instruction and supervision to a worker to protect the health and safety of the worker.

The company was fined $60,000 for each offense. Supervisor, Anthony Aiello pleaded guilty to failing to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances, for the protection of a worker at a workplace.

The fines were imposed by Justice Ann Watson. 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:

Genco Masonry and Contracting Inc. was found guilty of a contravention of section 228 (1) of the Ontario ‘Construction’ regulation which states,

“Before an excavation is begun,

a) The employer excavating shall ensure that all gas, electrical and other services in and near the area to be excavated are located and marked,
b) The employer and worker locating and marking the services described in clause (a) shall ensure that they are accurately located and marked, and
c) If a service may pose a hazard, the service shall be shut off and disconnected.”

Genco Masonry and Contracting Inc. was found guilty of a contravention of section 228 (2) of the Ontario ‘Construction’ regulation 213/91 which states,

“If a service may pose a hazard and it cannot be shut off or disconnected, the owner of the service shall be requested to supervise the uncovering of the service during the excavation.”

Genco Masonry and Contracting Inc. was found guilty of a contravention of section 25, subsection 2(a) of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) which states,

“An employer shall ensure that,

a) The equipment, materials and protective devices as prescribed are provided.”

Anthony Aiello, the supervisor in charge of the excavation was found guilty of a contravention of section 27, 2(c) of the OHSA which states,

“A supervisor shall,

c) Take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of the worker.”

I really had a hard time believing the end result for the accident. Everyone knows that all lines whether gas, electrical, propane, cable or telephone have to located and marked prior to any work being done. Not only was this not done but the supervisor did not notify his/her people of the risks involved. It is the same old story that someone has to die before things changed.

There is one other law contravened that could have been added to the charges.

Section 25, subsection 2(c) states,

c) When appointing a supervisor, appoint a competent person.”

The employer must employ only competent people to supervisor their staff. This is mandatory and the ‘requirements for competency’ sits at the beginning of the ACT, in the definitions section. It is the standard by which the MOL bases most of the training requirements.

Please review appropriate sections of the ACT and regulations prior to starting any work project. The reputation of your company as well as the welfare of your workforce can be protected by a little research.

Any course HRS Group Inc. teaches includes competency standards.

Remember — In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”

HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs including ‘Construction Safety Awareness’ and ‘Supervisor and the Law’. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.

We can also be reached at info@hrsgroup.com

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

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

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