Death of Worker Results in Fines to Welding Company and Supervisor
GUELPH, ON - Following guilty pleas, Oskam Welding (2014) Ltd. and one of its supervisors, Chad Wheeler, have been fined a combined total of $130,000 after a worker was killed in a fall from the structure the worker was assembling.
On July 3, 2014, workers employed by the welding and machining business were on the job site, an industrial establishment located at 65 Independence Place in Guelph. Oskam was hired to install two mezzanine structures at level 2 and level 3. The six-month construction project had started the week before the incident.
The metal plates used to form the floor of the mezzanine weigh between 300 to 500 pounds and measure about 10 feet by four feet. The plates were hoisted one at a time to the mezzanine level by a mobile crane operated on the ground by an Oskam worker, with another worker at ground level responsible for rigging the load to the crane. Two workers, including the deceased, were standing on the mezzanine structure to receive and place the steel plates into position to form the deck.
Workers on the mezzanine platform were wearing fall protection harnesses and lanyards; however, as fall protection anchor points had not been installed (and as such, lifelines were not in use), the workers could not adequately secure themselves from falling while standing on the mezzanine platform.
On the day of the incident, about 10 plates had been hoisted to the level 2 mezzanine and had been placed by two workers. However, at the time of the incident, the deceased was alone on the platform as the co-worker had left to use the restroom. The deceased gave a signal to the crane operator to lower the load over an opening in the floor deck. Workers who were in the area heard sounds that appeared to indicate the deceased was using a pry bar to position the plate just prior to falling.
The worker fell to the ground about 13 feet below; the plate being positioned also fell and struck the worker. Emergency services personnel were summoned but the worker succumbed to the injuries.
The subsequent Ministry of Labour investigation found that no guardrails were present at the edges of the mezzanines or at the edge of the openings in the work surface on the mezzanine on level 2; the mezzanine at level 2 was more than three metres from ground level; and no anchor points were provided on the mezzanines to allow workers to tie off and be protected from falling. Both mezzanines at level 2 and 3 were being assembled in the same fashion.
These all resulted in violations of Ontario Regulation 213/91, the Construction Projects Regulation. In part, one requirement of the regulation states that should it not be reasonably possible to install a guardrail system, workers shall be adequately protected by at least one prescribed method of fall protection.
Oskam failed to ensure workers were protected from the hazard of falling as required by the regulation and therefore violated the Occupational Health and Safety Act, and was fined $125,000. The company's supervisor on the worksite, Chad Wheeler, also failed to comply with this section of the regulation, and was fined $5,000.
Justice of the Peace Michael Cuthbertson accepted guilty pleas and fined the company and supervisor in Guelph court on March 18, 2016.
In addition to the fines, 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
Provincial Offences Court/Ontario Court of Justice
59 Carden Street
Justice of the Peace Michael Cuthbertson
Date of Sentencing:
March 18, 2016
Oskam Welding (2014) Ltd.
(formerly Oskam Welding & Machine Ltd.)
40 Rutherford Court
Occupational health and safety
Occupational Health and Safety Act
Section 25(1)(c) and 27(1)(a)
Ontario Regulation 213/91 (Construction Projects Regulation)