Archive for the ‘OHS’ Category

Ontario Mine Cited by Ministry of Labour

Friday, July 31st, 2015

judgement Last week, Goldcorp Canada Ltd. pleaded guilty to violating the Occupational Health and Safety Act in the Ontario Court of Justice and was fined $100,000 for a terrible accident in which a mine worker was injured by a haulage car.

The accident that led to the charges and the fine happened on October 13, 2013, as mine workers were using a diesel scoop tram to load haulage cars, which were operated a battery-powered locomotive on tracks at the Campbell Complex Mine, which is located near Balmertown in the Red Lake District.

As they were working, the haulage cars would exit and return to the work areas. Two of the workers were preparing large chunks of ore for a blast while a third worker was toiling next to the scoop tram. At one point, one of the workers noticed that the haulage cars were failing to stop, and he attempted to pull the worker closest to the car away from the tracks, but it was too late, and that worker was hit by the haulage car anyway and pinned against the scoop tram. As a result, he suffered numerous cuts and a broken bone.

After a thorough investigation by the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Goldcorp Canada Ltd. Was charged with failing as an employer to take all precautions reasonable in the circumstances to ensure that the operator of the vehicle had a clear view of the path of travel, and that it violated their mandated protection of a worker as required under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

In court on July 22, 2015, the company pleaded guilty and was fined $100,000  by Justice of the Peace Daisy Hoppe, who also imposed a 25 per cent victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act. That makes the total hit to the company’s bottom line $125,000 for not taking some simple precautions, thus once again demonstrating that workplace safety doesn’t cost, it pays.

Ammonia Leak Kills Fort Erie Worker

Monday, July 13th, 2015

chemicalsThe Rich Products plant in Fort Erie, Ontario suspended all production last week as the Ontario Ministry of Labour conducted a thorough investigation of the circumstances surrounding an ammonia leak that killed one worker and left two others hospitalized Monday, July 6.

Rich Products is based in Buffalo, New York, but they operate several dozen plants around the world, including one other plant in Canada. The Fort Erie plant employs 285 in all; 85 of them were on site at the time of the leak. There were also 10 contract workers on the site at the time, and the worker who succumbed was one of those; a contract worker for oil analysis firm WearCheck Canada.

Fire officials in Fort Erie were called out to a chemical leak that was reported at a few minutes after noon Monday. At the same time, officials at the plant, which makes frozen pizzas and bakery dough, evacuated all of the plant’s workers. Ammonia is used as part of the refrigeration process.

Unfortunately, though the Ministry of Labour and the Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change were called Monday, it wasn’t until Wednesday that ammonia levels dropped to a low enough level to allow anyone to enter the plant. It is unknown how long the investigation will take. So far, air and water samples are being taken to determine the leak’s impact. It is not known how long the plant will have to remain closed for the investigation, but the Niagara Regional Police did release a statement saying that the leak had been contained and there is no risk to the public.

Police noted that the two injured workers were sent to hospital with what were characterized as non-life-threatening injuries and that all others at the plant, including visitors, are safe. Some nearby homes  were evacuated for a time, while others were asked to stay inside and to close their windows and doors and to turn off their air-conditioning units. Once the leak was contained later that day, they were given the all-clear to return to their homes, or to reopen their windows, doors and to go outside.


Landscaping Company Hit with $100k Fine After a Fatal Fall

Tuesday, July 7th, 2015

Fall Arrest HarnessAn Ottawa landscaping and property services company, Lafleur de la Capitale Inc., has pleaded guilty to a violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act and been fined $100,000, for a workplace accident in which worker was killed when he fell from the ledge of a parking lot ramp at the National Gallery of Canada.

As a work crew from Lafleur was tending to the landscaping of a Gallery property on August 27, 2013, a worker was walking up the inclined entrance ramp of the underground parking facility when a car approached and the worker stepped back, causing him to fall backwards, to a lower level of the exit ramp, about 15 feet below. As a result of the injuries he incurred in the fall, the worker died at the scene.

Investigators with the Ontario Ministry of Labour learned that Lafleur de la Capitale failed to do a proper risk assessment at the worksite, which would have identified the falling hazard posed by the ramps, as well as those at the open side of the flowerbeds. If they had done the risk assessment, they could have taken measures to prevent the fall, by providing workers with fall arrest devices or a fall restraint system whenever they worked in those areas.

Lafleur de la Capitale Inc. pleaded guilty to its failure to take every reasonable precaution under the circumstances to protect a worker, which is a violation of the OHSA. Justice of the Peace Louisette Girault assessed a fine of $100,000 and also imposed a 25-per-cent victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act. That’s a dead worker and a $125,000 hit to the company’s bottom line for not doing a proper risk assessment and supplying workers with the essentials. More evidence that worker safety doesn’t cost, it pays.

Nova Scotia Gets Creative With OHS Penalty

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

Electrical_HazardA court in Nova Scotia court has approached a violation of the provincial Occupational Health and Safety Act with what can only be described as a “creative sentence.” In addition to paying a significant fine of $35,000, the company will also have to make 150 hours of safety presentations within a space of 18 months.

The violation happened when a journeyman electrician began work on a still-energized system and was electrocuted in the process. The company not only did nothing to make sure they complied with the Canadian Electrical Code; the court found that the company had failed to develop and implement any policies or practices to address workplace safety anywhere in the workplace. Their rationale for doing so was classic; they apparently felt that, since the worker was an experienced electrician who was very safety-oriented, there was no need.

The Nova Scotia OHSA allows the court to impose a “creative sentence option,” so after fining the company $35,000 and acknowledging that the company was extremely small, insolvent and out of business, they decided to add a community service element to the order, which required the company to make the presentations, detailing the facts of the case, including the workplace safety issues, and how they violated regulations. In all, the presentations were required to total 150 hours and be completed within 18 months.

Second Contractor Cited for Young Worker Fall

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

Workers at heightIn the second case in which a construction company has faced charges due to the death of a young worker who was part of a crew building high-rise student housing in Waterloo, Ontario, Maison Canada Holdings last week pleaded guilty and was fined $120,000 for their part of the tragedy. They were the the constructor of the project.

The incident occurred on Oct. 11, 2013, at a job site located at 185 King Street North in Waterloo, as the young worker was assisting with the delivery of concrete blocks to the roof. He was on the 12th storey of the building at the time, when a tower crane placed a skid of 3,500-pound concrete blocks onto wood planking in the roof. The placement led the skid to rest at an angle, which created a potential hazard, so the roof workers decided to move the skid to be re-landed so it was more flat.

The load was re-strapped and lifted up and out, at which point the load suddenly slid toward an exterior parapet wall that surrounded the roof top. Unfortunately, the young worker was situated between the parapet wall and the skid of blocks, so when the skid trolleyed out and crashed through the exterior parapet wall, it knocked the young worker four storeys, or just over 13 metres to a mast climber, which is a type of powered scaffold. As a result of the fall, the worker sustained head and leg injuries and later died.

Though the young worker was trained in fall protection, he was not using any when the accident occurred, and since the parapet wall was less than two feet high, it did not constitute a guardrail. Maison Canada Holdings pleaded guilty to failing to store and move material or equipment in a manner that does not endanger a worker, as required under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

As a result, the company was fined $120,000, which was augmented by a 25-per-cent victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act. That means a younger worker is dead and the company’s bottom line saw a $150,000 hit, just for not making sure everyone had fall protection.

Plastics Manufacturer Hit With $80,000 Fine For Not Protecting Worker

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015

Molten Platic injectionA Brampton-based manufacturer of plastic automotive parts, Magna Exteriors & Interiors Corporation, has been convicted for an incident in which a worker in their plant, which uses plastic injection molding machines, suffered burns while on the job. As a result, the company was fined $80,000.

The incident that led to the conviction happened on June 25, 2012. On that day, a plant worker was attempting to troubleshoot and repair an injection molding machine that actually wasn’t injecting plastic into the mold when it was supposed to. When the worker figured out that the molten plastic had been backing up in the machine, he adjusted the temperature so as to cool the machine’s nozzle. He was then called away to repair other machines.

When he returned to the machine, he began to remove the head bolts, but instead decided to break them loose instead, using a hammer to loosen the nozzle. As he did so, the melted plastic squirted out of the machine, causing serious burns to his torso.

Investigators with the Ontario Ministry of Labour determined that, at the time of the accident, the worker wasn’t wearing a face shield, which is required under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Regulation 851 governs industrial establishments and the regulation states that a worker exposed to a potential skin burn from a hot liquid or molten plastic or metal shall be protected from wearing apparel sufficient to protect them from injury.

The company was convicted of failing as an employer to ensure that all safety measures and procedures prescribed by law were carried out in the workplace. The fine of $80,000 was imposed by Justice of the Peace Eileen Walker, who also added a 25 per-cent victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act, which means a total $100,000 hit to the company’s bottom line for not protecting its workers as required by law.

Ministry of Labour Funds Innovative OHS Projects

Thursday, May 14th, 2015

canadian moneyThe Ontario Ministry of Labour has announced the first grants to be awarded under its Occupational Health and Safety Prevention and Innovation Program. Under that program, the province hopes to fund programs and initiatives designed to prevent workplace injuries and improve overall occupational health and safety in provincial workplaces.

The new program is aligned with Ontario’s Integrated Health and Safety Strategy, and the funding is directed at workplaces with a significant need to improve health and safety outcomes. Since the program launched in September 2014 with an open call for initiatives, the Ministry received 85 applications for funding.  After a thorough three-step review process, they chose 12 applicants to receive support for innovative OH&S initiatives. Among them include:

  • Minerva Canada Safety Management Education Inc. received funding for their project, which hopes to encourage more colleges and universities to incorporate health and safety education into their core curricula.
  • Our Youth at Work Association received a grant for their Safety Momentum for Vulnerable Workers initiative, which will use seminars and presentations to ensure that young workers better understand the importance of occupational health and safety.
  • The Thunder Bay Economic Development Commission received funding for a project to help employers in the Thunder Bay area to better understand their role they play in health and safety and to help them create and implement occupational health and safety programs.
  • Career Education Council Guelph Wellington Dufferin were awarded funding for an awareness and training program to create awareness of the importance of occupational health and safety in the workplace among youth, teachers, parents and families, including the development of a new safety app for students to use on their phones.
  • The Association for Workplace Tragedy Family Support received funding for their Threads of Life project, which provides support to families dealing with a life altering workplace injury, disease or fatality.
  • Community Living Prince Edward received funding to support a program to provide Musculoskeletal Disorder Injury Prevention Training for Developmental Service Workers, which will deal with the lifting hazardfor aging, part-time and new employees.
  • Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety received funding for an inquiry service, in which anyone in Ontario will have the ability to ask questions and receive accurate and reliable information regarding occupational health and safety.

Making Atlantic Canada’s Construction Industry Safer

Monday, May 11th, 2015

Training Equivalency AgreementIn an attempt to make the industry more competitive in their region and to aid in making workers more mobile and flexible, a number of construction safety experts and associations in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador have worked to create a Training Equivalency Agreement.

There are two parts to the agreement. The main part is to make training standards universal throughout all three provinces. What that means is, a worker trained in New Brunswick won’t have to be retrained to be able to take a job in Nova Scotia or Newfoundland and Labrador and vice-versa. That has been a problem for workers and employers in all three provinces for years, and setting up equivalent training everywhere will allow workers to go where the work is and it will save employers a lot of money and time in the long run.

The second part of the agreement will require the development of occupational health and safety training that will take into account the differences between the provinces, and make sure everyone meets or exceeds provincial training standards for all three.

The feeling is that with the Training Equivalency Agreement in place, not only will workers have more opportunities for employment, but it will allow companies to expend and create more of a regional presence, not blocked by the fact that their workers lack the safety training necessary for the other Atlantic Canada provinces.

Young Workers Inspection Blitz, Now Through August

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

health & safety OntarioAs part of its ongoing enforcement activities and initiatives, the Ontario Ministry of Labour (MOL) conducts a number of Inspection Blitzes all year long, each focusing on a specific industry, sector or group. These blitzes feature unannounced visits to various workplaces, including construction sites, warehouses, factories, and even retail stores and offices, so that inspectors can examine the workplace to make sure they are in compliance with the Occupational Health & Safety Act and its regulations. There is a standard of zero-tolerance for these Blitzes, which means, if deficiencies are identified, they will issue orders or lay charges against the employer.

Last year, between May and August 2014 the Ministry conducted such an Inspection Blitz in a number of industrial sectors,  including service, manufacturing, hospitality, transportation, logging and landscaping, among several others. During last year’s blitz, more than 2,500 surprise visits were made to more than 2,000 workplaces, and the MOL issued more than 7,900 orders. The most commonly cited violations were for; failing to address workplace violence by making an assessment and instituting a workplace violence and harassment policy; failing to make a copy of the OHS available to workers; failure to maintain equipment properly and in good condition and; failure to conduct mandatory basic safety awareness training.

The MOL has announced that it is conducting another New and Young Worker Blitz, starting this month and running through  August. In order to prepare for this enforcement blitz successfully, employers and supervisors should make sure every worker, especially the new and younger ones, have been given Occupational Health & Safety awareness training, and that the OHS safety information they are given is up-to-date, and that all workers are aware of it and following it.

In addition, employers should be sure that all necessary equipment, materials and protective devices have been provided to all workers, that they have been properly maintained in good condition, and that they are being used as required by law. Be sure that all hazards are identified and that workers and supervisors are aware of them. They will also enforce any minimum-age requirements for jobs and equipment, so be aware of that, as well.

Keep in mind, while MOL inspectors will be looking closely at the conditions for new and young workers during this Blitz, they will be looking at everything, and the zero-tolerance policy extends to all violations, not just those having to do with new and young workers.

Cement Company Fined $75k for Worker Trapped in Hopper

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

Worker Trapped in HopperAn Ontario cement manufacturer, St. Marys Cement, pleaded guilty last week to violations of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and was fined $75,000 for a terrible incident in which a worker suffered a leg injury after becoming trapped in a sand and gravel hopper.

The accident occurred on July 19, 2013, as a worker at the company’s aggregate pit in Sunderland tried to remove some oversized gravel that had become lodged in the lower section of an 80-ton capacity hopper and was blocking it. After he unsuccessfully tried to use a pry bar to clear the blockage from outside the hopper, he next climbed into the bucket of an excavator and was lowered into the hopper.

At that point, the conveyor belt below the hopper, which was being used to take material away from the area, was shut off, but then the the worker climbed out of the bucket and stood on top of the gravel that had been blocking the hopper. He managed to poke a hole in the blockage, thus allowing some of the gravel to fall through, filling up the belt, at which point, other workers were instructed to re-start the conveyor.

When the conveyor started, the movement released the blockage, causing the sand and gravel to flow out of the hopper along with the worker’s body, which became trapped in the hopper. Workers were then instructed to stop the conveyor belt, at which point, the worker was extricated and taken to hospital.

After an Ontario Ministry of Labour investigation, they found that the employer had failed to ensure that, before a worker entered into any silo, bin, hopper or other container or structure containing bulk material, all further supply of material thereto was stopped and any removal of material therefrom prevented, as is required by OHSA, Section 25(1)(c).

St. Marys Cement pleaded guilty to failing as an employer to ensure that measures and procedures prescribed by law were carried out in the workplace, and the court fined the company $75,000, to which the court also added a 25-per-cent victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act.

Watching a worker climb into the hopper and fall through was obviously preventable, and now the employer is out a total of $93,750. Another example in which keeping workers safe saves companies a lot more than it costs.