Flash Fire Injures Worker, Orangeville Company Fined $60,000
Convicted: Roto-Mill Inc., 560 Riddell Road, Orangeville, Ontario, a company specializing in asphalt road reclamation and recycling, asphalt milling, concrete scarifying and rumble strip alert warnings systems.
Location: The parking lot of a race track located at 1716 Main Street East/Highway 3, Port Colborne, Ontario.
Description of Offence: A worker suffered injuries from hot asphalt while working on a tanker truck.
Date of Offence: June 23, 2016.
Date of Conviction: June 22, 2018.
- Following a guilty plea, the company was fined $60,000 by Justice of the Peace Douglas W. Phillips in St. Catharines court; Crown counsel Daniel Kleiman.
- 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.
- In June 2016, the company was engaged in a re-paving construction project on Highway 3 in Port Colborne. The task required using asphalt that is heated to remain in a liquid state. Workers had been instructed to reach an operating temperature of 320 degrees Fahrenheit and stop the reheating process; they had also been directed to monitor and heat the unit without exceeding 380 degrees Fahrenheit. A previous procedure instructed workers to heat the unit without exceeding 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
- A worker arrived at the race track parking lot and, working alone, started to re-heat asphalt cement in a Roto-Mill tanker truck. The temperatures were allowed to rise, unmonitored, to approximately 500 degrees.
- Another worker was called over to provide assistance and the re-heater was allowed to cool down to lower temperatures. A pump was activated to start drawing the asphalt cement and then shut off.
- The first worker climbed onto the top of the tanker truck wearing protective equipment for protection from hot asphalt cement.
- A single flash fire came from the unit's discharge pipe near the tanker truck's hatch and struck the worker.
- Emergency services attended and the worker was admitted to hospital with critical injuries.
- The Ministry of Labour investigated and a report prepared by a ministry engineer concluded that the re-heater was overheated which resulted in flammable vapours and hazardous gases and the flash fire.
- The defendant failed to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker, contrary to section 25(2)(h) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, by failing to ensure that the re-heater was not operated at temperatures that can produce flammable vapors and hazardous gases.