Excerpt from the Government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’

Sobeys Capital Incorporated was fined $80,000 on April 28, 2008 for a violation under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) after a worker was injured at its store at 197 Front St. in Toronto.

On October 10, 2008, a worker was using a small forklift to unload skids of ice cream from a truck trailer that was parked at the store’s loading dock. The worker used a dock bridge, a metal plate attached to the dock floor, to span the gap between the dock and the trailer. When the worker drove the forklift across the dock bridge, it bounced and came to rest 15 cm above the trailer bed. The worker picked up a skid of ice cream with the forklift.

While reversing out of the trailer, the worker’s leg became jammed between the forklift and raised dock plate and was broken.

A Ministry of Labour investigation found that the dock bridge had not been installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions or properly maintained.

Sobeys Capital Incorporated pleaded guilty to failing to ensure that its dock bridge was maintained in good condition.

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:

Sobeys was found guilty of violating one of the basic requirements and responsibilities under the law. Section 25 of the OHSA, subsection 1 (b) states,

“The employer shall ensure that the equipment, materials protective devices provided by the employer are maintained in good condition.”

I guess I started out delivering my opinion when I began to write the actual section of the law that was violated. It is one of the most important and basic responsibilities any employer must understand. Alas, too few understand the implications too late and someone gets hurt or killed.

I remember a company that had 6 forklifts that were defective in some way. Some had hydraulic leaks, some had weak brakes, one had no horn and two had propane gas leaks. The workers are required to write up any and all defects they find during the initial re-use inspection and this companies workers certainly did! Many times! Nothing was ever done about these and months went by. A suggestion to place the concern in front of the JHSC and this, the workers did. The plant manager was notified that HE was in violation of the particular section of the ACT and the maximum personal fines totalled $150,000 (6 X $25,000/forklift) The plant manager proceeded to lease 6 forklifts until the entire fleet was fixed and returned to production. (Last I heard, 2 of the leases were kept due to the severity of the defects)

I automatically thought of this when I read the initial report. No employer should keep defective equipment around and not fix them or they will be in violation of the same thing. If an employee is hurt on faulty equipment and it was written up before, the employer should be receiving anywhere up to $500,000 fine, the maximum fine for a company for a contravention of the ACT or the regulations.

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 ‘Forklift Certification’ and ‘Forklift Re-Certification’. 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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