Blog Post #144 – Three Ottawa Construction Companies Fined $160,000 Total After Health and Safety Violations

Blog Post #144 – Three Ottawa Construction Companies Fined $160,000 Total After Health and Safety Violations

Excerpt from the Government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’

200 Besserer Inc., the constructor of a condominium in Ottawa, was fined $50,000 on September 28, 2009, for a violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA). Taggart Construction Limited and Right Forming (1996) Limited were fined $35,000 and $75,000, respectively, for other violations of the OHSA at the same project.

On April 18, 2007, Taggart Construction was doing excavation work for a condominium at 200 Besserer St. An excavator was perched on top of a tall and narrow pile of earth, while a worker was receiving a load of concrete at the base of the pile. There were two steel plates on top of the pile to distribute the weight of the excavator, but the earth below was crumbling away. A Ministry of Labour inspector who was driving by noticed this unsafe work. The workers complied with the inspector’s orders to move the excavator back from the edge of the pile and work well away from its base. No one was injured.

Taggart Construction Limited pleaded guilty under the OHSA to failing to ensure that the excavator was located in a way that would not affect the stability of the wall of the excavation.

On July 8, 2007, a section of an engineered support system at the excavation collapsed. No workers were there at the time. The support system had been placed along the perimeter of the excavation to support its walls. It had been designed by an engineer. However, the construction of the failed section of the support system had deviated from the engineer’s design drawings.

200 Besserer Inc. pleaded guilty under the OHSA to failing to ensure that the variation from the engineer’s design drawings was approved in writing by an engineer before the variation occurred.

On October 25, 2007, Right Forming (1996) Limited was doing formwork at the 200 Besserer St. project. Workers were using a crane to move a pallet of materials to the edge of a platform. One worker signaled to the crane operator to lift the hoisting chains up and away from the pallet. The hooks of the hoisting chains caught the corner of the pallet and caused it to flip off the platform and fall to the next level. The falling pallet struck and critically injured another worker.

Right Forming (1996) Limited pleaded guilty under the OHSA to failing to ensure that the pallet was not placed, left or stored in a manner that could endanger a worker.

The fines were imposed by Justice of the Peace Brian Mackey. 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:

Taggart Construction Ltd., was convicted for a contravention of section 233(3) of the Ontario ‘Construction’ regulation 213/91 which states,

“No person shall operate a vehicle or other machine shall be located in such a way as to affect the stability of the wall of an excavation.”

200 Besserer Inc. was convicted for violating section 236(5) of the Ontario ‘Construction’ regulation 213/91 which states,

“Before a variation from the design drawings and specifications for a prefabricated, hydraulic or an engineered support system is permitted, the variation shall be approved in writing by a professional engineer.”

Right Forming (1996) Limited was convicted for violating section 113 of the Ontario ‘Construction’ regulation 213/91 which states,

“No object or material shall be placed, left or stored in a location or manner that may endanger a worker.”

In an earlier blog I reported that the number of issues dealing with health and safety in a workplace, especially a construction project, can be so numerous that many are not investigated prior to an accident or incident. The construction regulation 213/91, is vast and is the largest of the four main sectors; 1) Construction, 2) Industrial, 3) Mining, and 4) Healthcare.

For those not up on the green book (OHSA) the ACT itself is the law and the regulations determine how and to who it is applied. You can imagine why the construction regulations can be so encompassing.

What I am trying to say is that this particular sector is very difficult to police all aspects of the work environment. It would take a very skilled H&S Coordinator to include health and safety controls into the planning stage and the research would be quite lengthy.

Remember — In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

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

Dan
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