Excerpt from the Government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’
Sunshine Grounds Care was fined $12,000 on August 26, 2010 for a violation under the Occupational Health and Safety Act after a worker was injured. The company was also fined $28,000 for obstructing a Ministry of Labour inspector who investigated the incident.
On June 16, 2008, a worker from the Oakville-based company was cutting grass in Hamilton. The worker was riding a lawn tractor that was not equipped with a roll-over protective structure. The worker was wearing a seat belt. The tractor went over a bump, and thinking it would roll over, the worker released the seatbelt and jumped out of the vehicle. The tractor did not tip over but it did run over the worker’s foot.
A Ministry of Labour investigation found that the tractor’s manual prohibited the use of a seatbelt if the roll-over protective structure was not on the vehicle.
1637783 Ontario Ltd., carrying on business as Sunshine Grounds Care, pleaded guilty to failing to instruct the worker to not use a seatbelt while the roll-over protective structure was not attached to the tractor.
The investigation also found that the company owner told a worker to remove parts from the tractor before the Ministry of Labour inspector arrived to investigate the incident.
1637783 Ontario Ltd., carrying on business as Sunshine Grounds Care, pleaded guilty to hindering, molesting, obstructing or interfering with a ministry inspector.
The fines were imposed by Justice of the Peace Donald Dudar. 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.
The law(s) in contravention:
Sunshine Grounds Care was found guilty of a contravention of section 25, subsection 2(a) of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) which states,
“The employer shall provide information, instruction and supervision to a worker to protect the health and safety of the worker.”
Sunshine Grounds Care also interfered with the investigation by removing parts from the tractor prior to the beginning of the investigation. Therefore, they were found guilty of a contravention of section 62, (1) of the OHSA which states,
“No person shall hinder, obstruct, molest or interfere with or attempt to hinder, obstruct, molest or interfere with an inspector in the exercise of a power or the performance of a duty under this ACT or the regulations or in the execution of a warrant issued under this ACT or the Professional Offences Act with respect to a matter under this ACT or the regulations.”
First of all, the employer did not give the worker all the information he/she needed to do the work. The tractor manual included information vital to the employee’s safety. First NO-NO!
Secondly, the employer decided to remove evidence from the scene which is a direct violation of the ACT and regulations. Unless there is a need for medical attention or keeping an essential service open and running, the scene MUST be left as is until signed off by the MOL inspector. Another NO-NO!
As an employer, it is the right of every worker to be given everything necessary to do the work safely. The employer needs to brush up on the green book to review the expectations and then live up to them.
By the way, do not think you can hide much by the MOL. The audacity of an employer to do so never ceases to amaze me.
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. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.
We can also be reached at email@example.com
‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.
Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Foundation Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.