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Worker's Death in Tank Container Results in $105,000 Fine for Oakville Company

Court Bulletin

Worker's Death in Tank Container Results in $105,000 Fine for Oakville Company

Ministry of Labour

Convicted: Prokleen Washing Services Inc., 2378 Royal Windsor Drive, Oakville, Ontario, a company that provides washing services for trucks and trailers, petroleum tankers and fuel delivery trucks, highway tractors, chemical tankers, flatbeds, semi-trailers, light-duty trucks, reefers (refrigerated trucks) and dump trucks.

Location: The company's facility in Oakville.

Description of Offence: A worker was found unconscious inside a tank that carried nitrogen. The worker died from asphyxiation.

Date of Offence: January 27, 2017.

Date of Conviction: December 20, 2018.

Penalty Imposed:

  • Following a guilty plea, Prokleen Washing Services was fined $105,000 by Justice of the Peace Margot McLeod in Milton court; Crown Counsel Wes Wilson.
  • 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.

Background:

  • Two workers were performing the wash of a customer's tank container that carried nitrogen.
  • Nitrogen displaces oxygen and can be an asphyxiation hazard in an enclosed space. Neither worker was required to enter the tank to complete the wash.
  • One of the workers briefly left the workplace and returned. The worker who had remained was found unconscious in the tank.
  • Emergency medical services were called but the worker could not be revived.
  • The cause of death was determined by the coroner to be inert gas asphyxiation.
  • There were no eye witnesses to the incident. The worker was an experienced worker.
  • The Ministry of Labour's investigation found the company's written plan did not adequately identify certain workplace hazards. In particular, an access point of a customer's container was not equipped with warning signs as to the oxygen-depleted atmosphere of the tank.
  • Prokleen Washing Services commited the offence of failing as an employer to ensure the measures and procedures prescribed by section 7(1) of Ontario Regulation 632/05 (the Confined Spaces regulation) were carried out in the workplace, contrary to section 25(1)(c) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
  • The regulation states that "before any worker enters a confined space, the employer shall ensure an adequate written plan, including procedures for the control of hazards identified in the assessment, has been developed and implemented by a competent person for the confined space."

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