Faulty Equipment Injures Two Workers, Auto Shop Fined
Convicted: Lakeshore Motors Ltd., 1155 Government Road West, Kirkland Lake, Ontario, a car dealership selling and servicing new and used cars, trucks and SUVs.
Location: The company's vehicle servicing facility.
Description of Offence: Two workers were injured when a hoist holding up a vehicle failed and the vehicle fell to the ground.
Date of Offence: February 21, 2017.
Date of Conviction: June 18, 2019.
- Following a guilty plea, Lakeshore Motors Ltd. was fined $45,000 by Justice of the Peace Theodore A. Hodgins in Kirkland Lake; Crown Counsel Jai Dhar.
- 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.
- On February 21, 2017, two workers were using a hoist to raise a vehicle undergoing repair.
- The hoist consisted of two metal posts, approximately six feet apart, which stick up vertically from the floor. Each post has two swing arms that are used to lift vehicles off the ground. To lift the vehicles, workers drive the vehicle over the arms, pivot the swing arms and set them underneath the vehicle in position so that they can engage with the vehicle's undercarriage.
- The hoist is equipped with arm restraint gears designed to lock the swing arms in place once they are set in position. The vehicle can then be lifted to the desired height using the hoist's hydraulic pumps. Other gears engage to lock the arms into position at that height. The hoist has a 10,000-pound capacity.
- On the date in question, the vehicle was raised approximately six feet in the air and the workers were standing underneath the vehicle doing repairs. The vehicle suddenly fell off the hoist to the floor.
- Both workers suffered critical injuries.
- Investigation by the Ministry of Labour revealed that at least one of the four restraint arms on the hoist had swung out of place, causing the entire vehicle to slip off the restraint arms and fall. Examination of the arm restraints revealed that the gears that were supposed to lock the arms in place were not functioning properly. The teeth on the gears were worn, rusted and in poor condition and the metal bars that hold the restraints together were bent.
- Ministry of Labour inspectors tested the equipment and found several shortcomings. One of the swing arms moved easily out of the set position when pushed by hand; a second swing arm moved out of position when forcibly pushed by hand and a third swing arm moved out of the set position when forcibly pushed by two inspectors. A Ministry of Labour engineer concluded that the restraint devices had not functioned properly for an extended period of time.
- Pads on the swing arms were found to be worn and in poor condition.
- Several of the other hoists in the workplace were examined and found to be in similarly poor condition. A privately retained hoist inspector concluded that the hoists showed years of wear and identified a number of items that needed to be addressed in each hoist. Four of the hoists failed their examinations.
- A company had previously been hired by Lakeshore Motors to inspect all hoists at the workplace. That company performed the inspections, which were primarily visual and lasted approximately 15 minutes per hoist. The company indicated that there were no defects in the hoists and that they were fit to use.
- Neither the company nor its owner were certified by the Automotive Lift Institute as lift inspectors. (This certification is not required by the Occupational Health and Safety Act or its regulations.)
- The equipment manual for the hoist involved in the incident states that all moving parts and telescopic arms should be inspected daily for evidence of uneven or excessive wear. Furthermore, arm restraints are to be inspected and lubricated every two months. Investigation by the Ministry of Labour revealed no such inspections had taken place on any of the hoists and that such inspections, if done properly, would have uncovered the defects.
- Lakeshore Motors had not provided the workers with any information or instruction on inspection requirements and had not trained or instructed the workers on how to inspect the hoists. As a result, there was no regular maintenance routine in place for the hoists.
- The hoist that failed on February 21, 2017 had not been inspected prior to use. Furthermore, the joint health and safety committee had not performed any monthly inspections of the workplace in January or February 2017.
- On February 21, 2017, Lake Shore Motors Inc. failed as an employer to provide information, instruction and supervision to a worker to protect the health and safety of the worker at a workplace located at 1155 Government Road West, Kirkland Lake, Ontario, contrary to section 25(2)(a) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. In particular, Lake Shore Motors Inc. failed to provide information, instruction and supervision on the safe operation and inspection of automotive hoists.