An Ontario company and one of its supervisors have both been hit with fines, after they were found in violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act twice within the same week for the exact same violation. The first violation resulted in the injury of a student worker, and the second occurred right in front of a Ministry of Labour inspector, as he was investigating the first. The company was Welland-based CRS Specialties Inc., a manufacturer of rebar bending equipment, who was fined $55,000, while a second fine of $4,000 was imposed on the supervisor in question.
The first incident occurred on March 23, 2011. The student had just finished up taking apart a fan and washing it in a Varsol bath, when he was start a welding task. At the time the student worker was wearing a polyester-blend sweatshirt over overalls. The supervisor did not supply him with a welding jacket, welding sleeves, neck shroud or flame-retardant clothing, even though polyester is very flammable, and should not be worn while welding. Predictably, the sweatshirt ignited and caught fire, causing the student to suffer second degree burns.
Unbelievably, a few days later, on March 28, 2011, a Ministry of Labour inspector who was on site investigating the first accident five days earlier, happened to witness another worker in the same workplace performing a welding task while wearing a polyester-blend sweatshirt and only one welding sleeve.
In the Ontario Court of Justice, CRS Specialties Inc. pleaded guilty to failing to ensure that a competent person was appointed as supervisor. In addition, the supervisor pleaded guilty to failing to ensure that a worker was wearing apparel sufficient to protect the worker from injury while welding.
The fines and the legally required 25% victim fine surcharge were imposed by Justice of the Peace B. Phillips on April 4. That means the supervisor will have to pay $5,000 out of his own pocket. How much can you afford for not ensuring the workers in your care are safe?