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Ottawa Catholic District School Board Fined $275,000 After Classroom Explosion

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Ottawa Catholic District School Board Fined $275,000 After Classroom Explosion

Ottawa, ON - The Ottawa Catholic District School Board was fined $275,000 today for a violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act after an explosion in a school classroom that killed a student.

On May 26, 2011, students in a Mother Teresa High School classroom were making barbeques out of steel barrels. As a student was cutting a barrel with a hand grinder, the barrel exploded. The student was killed.

A Ministry of Labour investigation found that the barrel the student was using had been washed out with a flammable cleaner. The barrel had been stored with its caps closed prior to the class project, allowing flammable cleaning vapours to accumulate inside the barrel. When the student was cutting the barrel, a spark from the grinder ignited the vapours, causing the explosion.

The investigation also found that the school board did not have adequate review and assessment procedures in place to ensure hot work on drums or containers could be carried out safely.

The Ottawa Catholic District School Board pleaded guilty to failing, as an employer, to provide information, instruction and supervision to the teacher concerning safe work practices and recognition of the hazards associated with the class project.

The fine was imposed by Justice of the Peace Claudette Coulas. In addition to the fine, the court imposed a 25-per-cent 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.

Court Information at a Glance

Location:                    Ontario Court of Justice

                                    100 Constellation Cres.

                                    Ottawa, ON

Judge:                         Justice of the Peace Claudette Coulas

Date of Sentencing:     August 16, 2012

Defendant:                   Ottawa Catholic District School Board

Matter:                         Occupational Health and Safety

Conviction:                  Occupational Health and Safety Act, Section 25(2)(a)

Crown Counsel:           Daniel Kleiman

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