REGINA, Sask. – A woodworks company based in Regina has been ordered to pay a $2,800 fine, including $800 in surcharges, after being convicted in Regina Provincial Court of two occupational health and safety violations. According to a news release from the Saskatchewan Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety, an occupational health officer from the Ministry inspected a worksite near Regina on June 2, 2016 and observed employees of NLF Woodworks Inc. working without the required fall-protection equipment or protective headwear. No one was injured, but the employer was charged with contravening sections 91 and 116(2) of the province’s oh&s regulations. NLF pleaded guilty in court on Oct. 4 of this year. Another employer, Kamineski Deptuck Holdings Ltd. in Saskatoon, was fined for similar offences the week before (COHSN, Oct. 10).
NAPANEE, Ont. – Lafarge Canada Inc., a supplier of construction materials based in Mississauga, Ont., has been fined $115,000 for its role in a contract worker’s shock injury on March 2, 2016. A court bulletin from the Ontario Ministry of Labour stated that a worker had been cleaning electrostatic precipitators at the corporation’s plant in Bath that day, but the power supply for one of the precipitators had not been de-energized or locked out. The worker opened an access panel and received an electrical shock of about 47,500 volts, which required treatment at a hospital. In the Ontario Court of Justice in Napanee, Lafarge later pleaded guilty to violating section 25(1)(c) of the province’s Occupational Health and Safety Act, which requires an employer to ensure that the power supply to an electrical installation, equipment or conductor is disconnected, locked out of service and tagged before any work is done on or near live exposed parts. Justice of the Peace Donna I. Doelman imposed the fine on Oct. 12 of this year.
ST. JOHN’S, N.L. – A worker’s falling injuries at a St. John’s community centre two years ago have led to occupational health and safety charges against Flynn Canada Limited, a nationwide trade contractor specializing in roofing. According to an Oct. 12 news release from Service N.L., the provincial government’s labour department, the incident occurred in Sept. 2015 during construction of the Paul Reynolds Community Centre, where a Flynn employee fell through the opening on the roof of the unfinished building and sustained injuries. Following an investigation by Service N.L.’s occupational health and safety division, Flynn Canada was charged with failing to provide a safe workplace, install temporary flooring in the roof’s work area and familiarize employees with hazards. The employer made its first court appearance on the charges on Oct. 10 at the St. John’s Provincial Court, and the next appearance is scheduled for Nov. 22, the release stated.
WINDSOR, Ont. – An Oct. 6 court bulletin from the Ontario Ministry of Labour (MOL) announced that a Windsor roofing firm had been convicted for its involvement in the falling death of a young worker in late 2015. On Dec. 11 of that year, a group of Dayus Roofing Inc. employees were replacing shingles on a local house roof, and one of the workers was tasked with dumping older shingles into a dumpster on the ground. The worker was wearing fall-protection equipment, but detached the lanyard from the safety line while crossing the roof to dispose of shingles; the worker then lost footing and fell to the ground, sustaining serious injuries. After six months in the hospital in a coma, the worker died, the MOL stated. Dayus Roofing later pleaded guilty in the Ontario Court of Justice in Windsor to failing to use a guardrail system, or a more effective fall-arrest system like a travel-restraint system, to protect its employees. Justice of the Peace Susan E. Whelan convicted the firm on July 17 of this year and sentenced it to pay a fine of $90,000, plus the standard 25 per cent victim fine surcharge. “New and young workers in Ontario are more likely to be injured during the first few months on the job than other workers,” the MOL stated in the bulletin, “and are three times more likely to be injured during their first month on the job than at any other time.”
BARRIE, Ont. – A Toronto-based crane company was recently sentenced to pay a $95,000 fine, plus a 25 per cent victim fine surcharge, following a worker fatality that occurred at a worksite in Innisfil, Ont. on June 22, 2016. That day, an employee of Toronto Crane Service Inc. was cutting up a tower crane when the jib section tipped over and fell onto the worker, resulting in fatal injuries, according to an Oct. 6 court bulletin from the Ontario Ministry of Labour (MOL). The MOL investigation determined that the employer had violated section 25(1)(c) of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act, in failing to ensure that any machinery or equipment that could fall and endanger a worker had been secured. Toronto Crane Service later pleaded guilty to the charge in the Ontario Court of Justice in Barrie, the MOL stated, and Justice of the Peace Ann C. Forfar ordered the company to pay the fine on Sept. 6 of this year.
A recovery-boiler explosion at a pulp mill in Peace River, Alta. on Sept. 22 has caused the facility to cease operations for the time being, but employees of the company that runs the mill are still working with full pay.
Nobody was injured in the incident at the Daishowa-Marubeni International Ltd. (DMI) pulp mill, according to Trent Bancarz, a spokesperson for Alberta Labour. The explosion occurred at about 1:30 p.m. that day, he added, and the boiler has been inoperable since then.
“We didn’t issue any stop-use or stop-work orders,” said Bancarz. “Our investigation continues, and we’ve also requested an investigation report from the company.”
Amber Armstrong, DMI’s communications and public-relations superintendent, told COHSN that the explosion had resulted from a smelt water leak in the recovery boiler, which is a ten-story-high unit.
“We had a team on that day that were responding to some indicators that our recovery boiler had some issues,” said Armstrong. “It was quickly determined that there was, in fact, a water leak.” The team immediately initiated emergency protocols and shut down the plant safely.
A recovery boiler produces a substance called black liquor, which turns into smelt, which can become explosive if it comes into contact with water, Armstrong explained. In this case, water leaked from one of the water tubes around the boiler that are intended to cool it down. “What ended up happening is, we had to cool down everything in the recovery boiler and then remove it, and then start looking at each of those water tubes.”
This was the first such incident that had ever happened at the mill, added Armstrong. “But we’re prepared for it,” she said, noting that the company walks through its emergency-response procedures on an annual basis.
“All of our operators, when I interviewed all of them,” she said, “I was like, ‘Were you scared? Were you this?’ And all of them said, ‘We were prepared. We knew when it was happening what to do, and we knew how to shut it down.’
“The training aspect of it over 28 years really kicked in.”
DMI reported the incident to Alberta Labour’s occupational health and safety division on the following day, Bancarz said. Oh&s officials will be visiting the mill to investigate the company’s response to the explosion, and the employer is investigating the incident as well.
“We have our own internal investigation,” said Armstrong, “to make sure we close any gaps. We understand it was an equipment failure, though. We know it’s not a failure related to any of our personnel.”
In the meantime, she added, all of the employees at the mill are still at work, even though the facility is shut down.
“We haven’t had any, and we’re not anticipating any, loss of manpower. We have brought in contractors,” said Armstrong. “Every other operational area in the mill has their own responsibilities that they’re undertaking. They’re doing area projects and cleanups and advancing on training.
“So as much as we hate to have anything affect our ability to produce pulp,” she said, “some of these other areas can really take some time and decrease some of their backlog.”
Bancarz could not determine whether DMI could face any oh&s charges over the incident. Alberta Labour’s current priority is just to investigate, he said.
“That decision’s made by Crown prosecutors, based on whatever facts we gather,” said Bancarz about laying charges. “To say there’d be charges or not would be pure speculation at this point.”
Founded in 1969, DMI is a forest-products company with facilities in Peace River and Quesnel, B.C., according to information from its website. Its corporate headquarters is in Vancouver.
TORONTO, Ont. – The Ontario Ministry of Labour (MOL) announced on Oct. 4 that it had already begun conducting an inspection blitz of mines and mining plants across the province, focusing on hazards that can lead to musculoskeletal disorders (MSD). A news bulletin from the MOL stated that the blitz is running from Oct. 2 to Nov. 30 and aims to reduce the risks of MSD hazards and slips, trips, and falls. Among the tasks that can cause MSDs in miners are manual material handling and operating equipment that causes extreme hand-arm vibration, the Ministry noted. Awkward or sustained posture, repetitive motion and lifting, pushing or pulling heavy objects also cause occupational MSDs. “MSDs cause pain and suffering for thousands of workers every year and cost Ontario workplaces millions of dollars due to absenteeism and lost productivity,” Marcelle Crouse, the province’s acting chief prevention officer, said in a press statement. “Our goal is to protect workers on the job. We’re working together to build awareness of MSD hazards and prevent injuries.” MSDs are the most common type of time-loss injuries reported to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, the bulletin added.
SASKATOON, Sask. – A worksite inspection last year has led to a $1,400 fine, including $400 in surcharges, for an employer that was not using proper fall-protection equipment or head gear at the time. The inspection occurred on June 20, 2016, when an occupational health officer with the Saskatchewan government saw employees of Kamineski Deptuck Holdings Ltd. working without the required personal protective equipment at a worksite near Saskatoon, according to a news release from the provincial Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety. No one was injured at the time, the release added. On Sept. 28 of this year, Kamineski Deptuck pleaded guilty in Saskatoon Provincial Court to failing to ensure that workers were wearing approved industrial protective headwear or using a fall-arrest system where they could have fallen at least three metres. “Falls from heights can cause serious injuries and are easy to prevent,” the Ministry stated.
LONDON, Ont. – A construction company based in Watford, Ont. has been convicted of failing to ensure that workers were using fall-protection equipment properly in an incident that left a worker critically injured nearly two years ago. According to a court bulletin from the Ontario Ministry of Labour (MOL), two employees of Thomson Construction Ltd. were strapping roof trusses onto a hog barn under construction in the Township of Middlesex Centre on Nov. 4, 2015, when one employee stepped on a defective strap, which broke. The worker fell approximately 6.7 metres to the ground and sustained injuries. The MOL found that the victim had been wearing a harness with a lanyard at the time of the accident, but the lanyard had not been connected to an anchor point or lifeline, which is required by law where a worker may fall at least three metres and if it is not feasible to install a guardrail. Thomson eventually pleaded guilty in a London provincial court, and Justice of the Peace Robert J. Lewin fined the company $50,000 on Oct. 2 of this year.
HALIFAX, N.S. – The president of the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour (NSFL) is speaking out about the lack of criminal investigations of workplace fatalities in the province. According to a Sept. 29 press release from the Federation, recent occupational deaths have failed to spur application of the Westray Law, a provision in the federal Criminal Code that imposes an obligation pursue criminal charges against employers in such incidents. “In the past 13 years, only four employers have been prosecuted under the Westray Law,” NSFL president Danny Cavanagh said in a media statement. “We believe that this lack of enforcement is costing lives, and too many workplace fatalities are never properly investigated, and only a handful have resulted in criminal charges.” Cavanagh urged employer organizations in Nova Scotia to work with the NSFL to ensure that police investigation workplace fatalities and lay criminal charges when warranted. “When criminal negligence results in a worker’s death, it is a crime and should be treated that way.”