Death of Worker in Fall Results in $100,000 Fine for Windsor Roofing Company
Convicted: Rauth Roofing Limited, a company that installs, replaces and maintains primarily flat roofs on commercial and industrial buildings in Windsor and Essex County.
Location: A commercial building on Dougall Avenue in Windsor.
Description of Offence: A worker fell through an opening in the roof and later died from the injuries.
Date of Offence: July 15, 2016.
Date of Conviction: June 21, 2018.
- Following a guilty plea, the company was fined $100,000 by Justice of the Peace Susan Hoffman in Windsor court (251 Goyeau Street); Crown Counsel Shantanu Roy.
- The court also 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.
- The project consisted of the replacement of an existing roof on a commercial building. First the existing roof - down to the metal deck underneath it - would be removed and discarded. A new built up roof system would then be installed.
- At the north end of the roof surface was a raised curb from an old HVAC unit that had been removed on an unknown date, before this project. Following the removal of the HVAC unit, the wooden frame of the curb was left in place with a plywood cover on top and sealed with rubberized roofing material to prevent water leaks. This raised curb was to be removed by Rauth Roofing as part of its work on the roof replacement project.
- On the morning of July 15, 2016, after conducting a site-hazard assessment, four Rauth Roofing workers began removing the existing roof deck, starting by dismantling the raised curb. Once they had removed rubberized roofing material and plywood cover from the curb, the workers noticed a sheet metal covering fastened on the underside of the opening beneath the curb. The curb was then removed and flipped over away from the opening.
- At this point the four workers were joined by another one of their colleagues to assist with moving the curb away from the work area. Four of the workers then began carrying the curb away as planned and agreed to by the workers. As they did so, the remaining worker prepared to place a piece of metal roof decking over the opening. The intent was to immediately use the piece of metal roof decking to make the opening flush with the rest of the roof surface.
- Meanwhile, as the other four workers were carrying away the curb, a portion of the curb began to break and one of those workers decided to let the others continue carrying away the curb on their own.
- A few moments after that, the lone worker was observed stepping into the opening. In doing so the worker stepped onto the sheet metal covering that was still fastened on the underside of the opening. The sheet metal gave way and the worker fell through the opening and landed on the surface of the second floor of the building.
- The worker sustained critical injuries as a result of the fall. Emergency medical services arrived on scene and the worker was rushed to hospital. The worker succumbed to the injuries and passed away less than two weeks later.
- The Ministry of Labour investigated the incident. The conclusion was that the Rauth Roofing Limited commited the offence of failing as an employer to ensure that either a guardrail system or protective covering as prescribed was used to prevent a worker from falling through an opening on a work surface. This was contrary to section 26.3(2) of Ontario Regulation 213/91 (the Construction Projects Regulation) and to section 25(1)(c) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.