Multiple Accidents Cost Toronto Company

A Toronto-based importer of stone and tile products, Ciot Toronto Inc., pleaded guilty last week to several violations of the Occupational Health and Safety Act and an importer, distributor and retailer of stone, granite and tile, has pleaded guilty and has been fined a total of $80,000 as a result of two separate incidents in two consecutive days at two locations in which workers were injured while moving stone slabs.

The first incident happened on March 11, 2014, when a Ciot worker was performing an assigned task in which he was removing bundles of stone slabs from a shipping container to place them in a Ciot warehouse located in Vaughan. At the time, the slabs were stacked vertically in bundles and secured in place with wooden braces. The normal procedure for such a task was for the worker to climb to the top of the bundles using an A-frame ladder and to use a reciprocating saw to cut the wooden braces. After that, while still on top of the bundle, the worker would wrap a 40-foot-long chain around the back of the bundle, climb backwards off the bundle and hook the chain to a forklift, in order to pull the stones out of the container.

Unfortunately, in this case the worker didn’t open the ladder. but instead used the ladder in a folded position, leaning it against the stone bundle. He then climbed up the ladder while carrying the 40-foot chain in one hand. The ladder slipped and the worker fell onto the top corner of the stone bundle resulting in a cut and a broken bone. The company was fined $20,000 for that incident.

The very next day, on March 12, 2014, a temp worker at a separate Ciot warehouse, on just his second day at work, was helping a forklift operator, also a temp worker, move large stone slabs. The forklift was equipped with a boom attachment and a scissor clamp and the workers planned to use the forklift and scissor clamp to lift and move the slabs, each of which was 10 feet by 4-1/2 feet and weighed about 700 pounds.

As the forklift operator placed the boom and clamp over the slabs, the other worker used a pry bar to make a space between the stored slabs to allow them to use the scissor clamp; the worker pried three slabs apart then walked to the middle of the slabs to release the hatch on the boom clamp, which allows the clamp to open and slide over the edge of the slabs. However, the boom came down quickly, hitting the slabs and causing them to fall on the worker in the middle of the slabs causing him to need surgery for internal injuries. The company received a $60,000 fine for that incident.

In both cases, the court ruled that the employer failed to follow the requirements of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Justice of the Peace Donovan Robinson accepted the guilty pleas and fined the company a total of $80,000 in Newmarket court on March 7, in addition to adding the 25-per-cent victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act. That means a hit to the company’s bottom line of $100,000 because they didn’t take the time to make sure their workers were trained and ready to move their product around their warehouse.