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Fall From Ladder Results in $50,000 Fine for St. Thomas Manufacturer

Court Bulletin

Fall From Ladder Results in $50,000 Fine for St. Thomas Manufacturer

Convicted: Maxill Inc., 80 Elm Street, St. Thomas, Ontario; a company that manufactures infection control products.

Location of Workplace: 80 Elm Street, St. Thomas, Ontario.

Description of Offence: A worker suffered a critical injury after falling off a ladder while trying to access the roof of the workplace.  There was no safe means to access the roof.

Date of Offence: September 18, 2018.

Date of Conviction: November 18, 2019.

Penalty Imposed:

  • Following a guilty plea, Maxill Inc. was fined $50,000 by Justice of the Peace Walter W. Rojek in St. Thomas provincial offences court; Crown Counsel Judy L. Chan.
  • 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:

  • On September 18, 2018, a worker was critically injured after falling from a stepladder while attempting to reach a fixed access ladder.
  • On that day, the worker's assigned task was to inspect the drains on the roof of the building. To gain access to the roof, the worker had to climb a six-foot aluminum stepladder to reach a vertical fixed access ladder attached to the side of the building, while carrying a five-gallon pail with tools and other equipment.
  • While standing on the top cap of the stepladder, the worker reached for the fixed access ladder above. The ladder tipped over, and the worker fell to a concrete pad below, sustaining a critical injury.
  • An investigation conducted by the (then) Ministry of Labour determined that there was no safe means of access to the roof of the facility. In particular, the bottom rung of the fixed access ladder was seven feet, three inches above the concrete pad, requiring some way of reaching the fixed access ladder. The stepladder was not a safe way to do so, as there was a gap of about 18 inches between the top cap of the stepladder and the bottom rung of the fixed access ladder.
  • The manufacturer's instructions for the stepladder provided that the top cap should not be used as a step. Furthermore, the fixed access ladder itself was not safe, in that it extended more than five metres (about 16 feet) above the concrete pad, and did not have the required safety cage around it.
  • Section 25(2)(h) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act provides that an employer shall take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker at the workplace.
  • Maxill Inc. failed as an employer to take the reasonable precaution of providing a safe means of access to the roof of the facility, contrary to section 25(2)(h) of the act. This is an offence pursuant to section 66(1) of the act.

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