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Training Gap Brings $130,000 in Fines

Professional Valve Service Ltd., a company that repairs and maintains vacuum valves for various industries, and one of their supervisors have significantly less money now, after pleading guilty last week for failing to train a worker and were hit with a total of $130,000 in fines for an accident in which a worker died while performing maintenance at Fort Vale.

The accident happened on February 10, 2014, when the worker was maintaining a vacuum valve at the company’s plant in Sarnia. The process involved using a modified version of the manufacturer’s procedure for disassembling the valve, involving the use of a drill press to remove the valve cap, which meant that, if pressure was suddenly released, the equipment would be contained by the press and the operator’s body would not be above the threaded rod.

When the accident happened, the worker was disassembling the valve alone, so there were no witnesses, but at some point, the threaded rod was released from an internal nut and the resultant pressure drove it through the worker’s head. He was found soon after the accident by a co-worker and died in hospital died two days later.

This was just the second time this particular worker had worked on one of these valves. He had been with Professional Valve for less than six months and had no similar experience previously, but he had never received any formal training on maintaining the valves because a company supervisor, Joe Heynsbergen, assumed that he already knew what he was doing.

Professional Valve Service Ltd. pleaded guilty to failing to provide information, instruction and supervision to a worker to protect the safety of the worker. For that, they were fined $125,000. For his part, Heynsbergen also pleaded guilty and was fined an $5,000 individually. The sentence and the penalties were handed out by Justice of the Peace Anna Hampson in Sarnia court. The fines were also accompanied by a 25-per-cent victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act.

In all, a supervisor has to pay $6,000 and his company has $137,500 less in its bottom line, just because a supervisor simply assumed a worker was properly trained when he wasn’t. Another example showing that training workers doesn’t cost a company money, it pays.

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