Archive for the ‘Supervisors’ Category

Newfoundland and Labrador Company and Supervisor Face Charges

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

AmbulanceIn Newfoundland and Labrador, a Corner Brook company and one of its supervisors face charges under the provincial  Occupational Health and Safety Act and Regulations  for an industrial accident in which an employee lost a finger.

The accident occurred  on June 7, 2011, at the Atlantic Minerals Ltd. facility in the Brake’s Cove area of Corner Brook, when the  press portion of a concrete block machine activated unexpectedly and crushed the worker’s right hand. The damage to the hand was so severe as to require the amputation of one finger.

After an investigation into the incident, the company now faces five charges for violations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act and Regulations. Among the violations are; the alleged failure, as an employer, to provide a safe workplace and to ensure that machine maintenance was done according to manufacturer’s instructions; failure to ensure that machines were guarded to prevent access and locked out to prevent injury due to unexpected startup.

In addition to the charges against the company, the supervisor also faces a charge for failure to ensure the health, safety and welfare of all workers under his supervision.

Ontario Construction Supervisor Personally Fined $30,000 for OH&S Violations

Monday, August 13th, 2012

It’s not only companies that should be concerned about the negative effects of ignoring safe working practices on their bottom line. Supervisors who don’t follow the rules also have a lot to lose.

 

Take, for example, the recent case in the Ontario Court of Justice in which an Uxbridge, Ontario construction company president was fined $30,000 for violations of the Occupational Health and Safety Act for his part in an accident in which a worker was killed. The fines weren’t based on his position as company president, but on his role as project supervisor.

 

The incident that led to the hefty fine occurred on December 15, 2009, as his construction company, 474294 Ontario Limited, carrying on business as Northern Machinery Services, was replacing a bridge on the Queen Elizabeth Way over Bronte Creek in Oakville. Company president Barry Wood, was supervising the project. As workers started to remove the concrete deck of the existing bridge, a section of the deck began to collapse. A worker fell and a concrete panel fell on top of him and killed him.

 

The Ministry of Labour investigation of the accident found that Mr. Wood had been provided with a copy of an engineered procedure for safely cutting and removing concrete from the bridge deck in order to maintain its structural integrity and prevent collapse, but that the procedure hadn’t been followed. To make matters worse, the workers involved in the project were not wearing fall protection at the time of the accident.

 

Wood pleaded guilty to failing, as a supervisor, to take the reasonable precaution of ensuring that workers engaged in the cutting and removal of the bridge deck followed the engineered procedure for that task. He also pleaded guilty to failing, as a supervisor, to ensure that workers exposed to a fall hazard were wearing fall protection. He was fined $20,000 for the first violation and $10,000 for the second. In addition to those fines, Wood also had to pay the court-imposed 25% victim fine surcharge, as required by the Provincial Offences Act. That’s a total of $37,500 in personal penalties.

 

This fine is significant, since at least one recent study found that more than 50% of OH&S charges against individuals are withdrawn by the Ministry of Labour. That said, the ministry is less likely to withdraw them in cases where a supervisor was given information regarding proper safety procedures and simply didn’t follow it.

The Time to Post Ontario Ministry of Labour’s New Safety Poster is Now

Friday, June 15th, 2012

The Ontario Ministry of Labour (MoL) is in the process of distributing free workplace posters titled “Health & Safety at Work – Prevention Starts Here” in English, French and 15 other languages to employers all over the province.  According to Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act, those employers who receive the poster will be required to post it in their workplaces immediately. The MOL has said that its inspectors will “begin enforcing the requirement” on October 1, 2012.

 

Employers who would rather not wait have the option to download and print the poster from the MoL’s website here.  The poster can be printed in black and white or colour and must be posted in print size of at least 8.5 by 11 inches

 

The poster summarizes workers’ health and safety rights and responsibilities, as well as the responsibilities of their employers and supervisors. It also reminds employers they are forbidden from taking action against workers for following the act or raising workplace health and safety concerns, and seeking enforcement of the OHSA. It also encourages workers to get involved in health and safety and explains when and why to contact the Ministry of Labour.

 

The poster was created after an expert advisory panel appointed in 2010 found many workers had little or no understanding of the Act, and advised that a health and safety poster be made available in multiple languages.

 

Any Ontario employers who are considering not putting up the poster yet should know that MoL inspectors will look for it when they arrive at workplaces. By putting up the poster, employers  can show that they are on keeping on top of health and safety law developments.

Town Fined $60,000 After Worker Injured

Monday, June 11th, 2012

A Town in Ontario was recently fined $60,000 for a violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act after an incident in which a young worker was injured.

 

The accident that led to the fine occurred on August 25, 2011, as summer students working for the town were repairing the lids of catch basins. The catch basin is the part of the storm drain that collects debris. One of the workers would lift each catch basin lid with a pickaxe so that another worker could apply tape to the basin. As should have been predictable, in one case, as one worker’s hand was in the basin, the lid slipped from the pickaxe and crushed that worker’s hand.

 

An investigation by the Ontario Ministry of Labour revealed that the workers on this project had no direct supervisor. Not only that, but the young workers had also not been instructed in the safe way to perform the work. Instead, a manager gave them a quick list of instructions before sending them out to repair the catch basins unsupervised.

 

The Town was fined $60,000 for failing to provide adequate information and instruction to the workers on how to safely repair the catch basins. The fine, which was imposed by Justice of the Peace Lena Mills, was accompanied by a 25% 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.

 

Construction Company Fined $225,000 for Explosion that Killed Homeowner

Thursday, April 7th, 2011


On March 7, Contractor Aecon Construction Group Inc. was hit with a fine of $225,000 as a result of a violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, stemming from a September 2008 explosion that killed a homeowner.

Union Gas Ltd. was preparing to provide natural gas service to residential neighborhoods outside of Owen Sound in the summer and fall of 2008, and they contracted Aecon to install natural gas lines. At least one of the homes being serviced had a private propane service on the property, including a storage tank and buried supply lines.

Aecon went to the home to begin installation of the natural gas line, even though the propane line had not been marked and was still in service that morning. As they attempted to install the natural gas line, the blade of an underground plough severed the unmarked propane line, causing the propane to leak through the soil and foundation of the house into the basement.

The next day, one of the homeowners went into the basement and lit a candle, causing the propane that had accumulated in the basement to ignite, resulting in an explosion and fire. The homeowner was blown out of the house and suffered third-degree burns, and died shortly thereafter.

A Ministry of Labour investigation found that the Aecon supervisor on site was aware of the propane service, but assumed the propane line would not be in the path of the natural gas line. The homeowners had not been present to supervise the location and excavation of the existing service lines.

The company pleaded guilty to failing to ensure the owner of the propane service was requested to locate and mark the service prior to the excavation. In addition to the fine, Judge Gary F. Hearn imposed a 25% 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.

Annual Meeting Reaffirms Governments’ Commitment to Well-Being of Workers and Employers

Friday, February 4th, 2011

At an annual meeting held on January 16 and 17 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, federal, provincial and territorial labour ministers discussed a number of issues and reaffirmed their continuing commitment to safe workplaces, to protect workers and employers.

The get-together was co-hosted by the Honourable Lisa Raitt, Canada’s Labour Minister, and the Honourable Jennifer Howard, Minister of Labour and Immigration for Manitoba.

Minister Raitt asserted that the Canadian Government’s top priority was the economy and that “safe and healthy workplaces boost productivity and innovation,” and that “the well-being of workers and employers are key to the success and performance of Canada’s economy.”

According to Minister Howard, “Safe and healthy working environments do not just happen, they require a commitment by governments and everyone at the workplace. … Manitoba has long enjoyed a reputation as a leader in workplace health and safety issues and we want to continue to build on our successes.”

The meeting included discussions of Canada’s international labour activities, and endorsed a renewed strategy for Canada’s work as part of the International Labour Organization. They agreed to work together to develop programs that use social media and other tools to enhance the occupational health and safety of young workers.  They also participated in panel discussions regarding the evolution of work and possible long-range labor policy, with an emphasis on labour relations, employment standards, and mental health in the workplace.

The labour ministers’ meeting is an annual event, but ongoing work continues throughout the year, through the Canadian Association of Administrators of Labour Legislation (CAALL). Established in 1938, CAALL is an association of federal-provincial-territorial departments of labour and heads of occupational health and safety agencies.

Ontario Safety Campaign Will Target Construction Sites

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

The Ontario government recently launched an eight-week health and safety awareness campaign designed to enlighten construction workers and their employers.

They unveiled the campaign at Algonquin College, at the site of the school’s  new construction trades building, which will open to about 2,500 construction trades students next year. The new campaign follows a 90-day safety enforcement blitz of more than 2,800 construction sites.

Even though the province’s lost-time injury rate among construction workers is one of the lowest in Canada, the 90-day blitz revealed numerous violations, including improper equipment use and poor supervisor and worker training. As a result, Ontario officials decided that it was time to emphasize the need for the entire construction industry to learn the importance of safety.

The campaign is being run in Canadian cities with the highest construction activity, including Ottawa.  It is sponsored by the Ministry of Labour, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board and the Infrastructure Health & Safety Coalition, and will feature newspaper advertising in the key ethnic languages spoken in the construction sector, and posters will appear on construction fences.  Tip sheets for workers will be available on the ministry’s website at www.ontario.ca/ConstructionSafety.

Another aspect of the campaign revolves around a hope that the public can become more involved in providing information to ministry officials. To that end, a toll free phone number (1-877-202-0008) has been established for the public to call in and report safety issues they see. If a follow-up visit deems a jobsite unsafe, the province can issue a stop-work order in the interests of safety.

Skyway Canada Fires YouTube Tool Tossing Construction Worker

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

A Calgary construction worker who became a YouTube sensation when he made a joke out of high rise construction safety has been terminated by his employer.

Last week, the president and CEO of Skyway Canada, Gary Carey, confirmed that, after an internal investigation of the incident, one employee was fired.

The video, which was posted on YouTube in October 2009, shows a number of construction workers as they worked from scaffolding on the 29th storey of a condo development under construction. One worker could be seen tossing a metal clamp and passing a co-worker a metal rod. The worker who tossed the tool was fired for violating company policies. Another worker was suspended, but allowed to return to work after the investigation, after it was determined that he wasn’t involved in the prank, and had actually voiced his objections to the other workers. A third worker involved in the video is no longer with the company.

When the video was discovered online, it was passed to company and government officials, all of whom saw the behaviour as offensive, especially since it came approximately two months after the tragic death of three-year-old Michelle Krsek, who was killed by metal roofing material that fell from a downtown Calgary high rise construction site.

Skyway still has to submit a report to Occupational Health and Safety officials.

Once Again Calgary Targets Construction Safety

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

After one of the most dangerous years in the city’s construction history, Calgary’s manager of building regulations has called on Alberta provincial officials to increase fines significantly for those companies found guilty of safety-code violations especially those, such as failing to secure building materials, that not only endanger workers, but the public at large.  He notes that the maximum $15,000 penalty for potentially deadly violations is significantly lower than for breaches of other safety laws, and doesn’t reflect the seriousness of the incidents.

This call comes in the wake of a series of incidents of falling debris that have occurred in the last year at high rise construction sites throughout Calgary, including falling steel that killed 3-year-old Michelle Krsek and injured an uncle last August.

The latest case being investigated by the city involves an online video, recorded last October but just recently discovered and passed on to authorities that was forwarded to city authorities, depicting construction workers with Skyway Canada horsing around recklessly on a Beltline tower. In the video (which has been removed from the YouTube video site), one worker actually tosses a metal clamp across scaffolds and jokes about the potential disaster if the tool had fallen and struck a passer-by. After learning of the video, Skyway Canada suspended two of the workers seen in the video. A third worker visible in the video had already left the company.

In addition to increased fines, city officials would also like to see greater reporting of incidents to the city. Currently, when near-misses or injuries occur, companies are required to report to the provincial Occupational Health and Safety office, but not to the city.  The city would like to see mandatory reporting to the city. The Calgary city council doesn’t have the legal authority to require such a thing, so the city is currently forced to rely on a voluntary reporting program for the city’s construction industry.

Keeping Workers Cool During Heat Wave

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

It’s been a pretty hot summer so far, and we’re not even halfway through, so perhaps this is would be a good time to remind you to take special precautions on scorching hot summer days, in order to keep your workers safe and productive.  The higher the temperature goes, the less comfortable workers feel, which makes them more prone to accidents and also causes them to slow down a bit. But just as importantly, excessive heat can be extremely dangerous, and building a culture of safety requires that you keep your workers as safe as possible.

If possible, try to reduce the demand on each worker by reducing  the level of physical exertion such as excessive lifting, climbing, or digging. If possible, try to use relief workers or assign extra workers.  Try to reschedule the most strenuous activities jobs for the cooler part of the day and reserve the hottest part of the day for routine maintenance and repair work.

For those workers who must work outside during the hot part of the day, they should wear light, very loose-fitting clothing, with long sleeves and long pants, in order to avoid serious UV damage from the sun.  For areas of the body that are still exposed, such as faces, hands and necks, be sure to have adequate supplies of good quality sunscreen on hand as well.

Make sure all outside workers are provided with plenty of water. And that should be water, as sugary drinks and drinks with caffeine actually cause faster dehydration. They should also be given plenty of breaks during which they can drink the water. It is far more beneficial to drink small amounts of water at frequent intervals than to drink a lot of water all at once. If the work is particularly strenuous and is performed in direct sunlight, try to provide a shady area or tent, where workers can sit down, drink some water and recharge.

If your workers are toiling away in an area with a combination of high temperature and high humidity,  be aware of the increased risk to such workers of heat stroke or heat exhaustion. In addition to workers who don’t take adequate breaks or drink enough water, pay close attention to workers who take certain medications, older workers or workers who are not in peak physical condition, as they are especially susceptible to complications from heat-related stress.

Some of the warning signs for heat-related illness include headaches, lightheadedness, confusion, irrational behavior, loss of consciousness, abnormally high body temperature and hot, dry skin.  When a worker starts to complain that he or she isn’t feeling well, you would do well to take the complain seriously and sit that worker down in the shade with a cup of water and let them recover.

Other potential risks to the health of workers toiling outdoors in summer aren’t necessarily heat-related. It might be a good idea to have workers regularly check for ticks, which sometimes carry Lyme Disease. Be sure to watch out for mosquitoes, which can carry West Nile Virus, and plants, such as poison oak and poison ivy, that can cause skin rashes and make it difficult to work.