Death of worker results in fines to welding company, supervisor

Total of $130,000 in fines after guilty pleas

Following guilty pleas, Oskam Welding Ltd. and Chad Wheeler, one of its supervisors, have been fined a combined total of $130,000.

The fines come after the death of a worker after a fall from the structure the worker was assembling.

On July 3, 2014, workers were on the job site installing two mezzanine structures at level 2 and level 3. The large metal plates used to form the floor of the mezzanine were hoisted one at a time by a mobile crane operated on the ground by an Oskam worker, with another worker at ground level rigging the load to the crane. Two workers, including the deceased, were on the mezzanine structure to place the plates into position.

At the time of the incident, the deceased was alone on the platform as the other worker had gone to the bathroom. The deceased signalled to the crane operator to lower the plate over an opening in the floor deck. Other workers in the area said it appeared the deceased was using a pry bar to position the plate just prior to falling 13 feet to the ground below. The plate being positioned fell and struck the worker.

Emergency services were called but the worker died from the injuries.

A Ministry of Labour investigation found no guardrails at the edges of the mezzanines or the openings in the work surface; the mezzanine was more than three metres from the ground; and no anchor points were provided to allow workers to tie off. The findings resulted in violations of Ontario Regulation 213/91, the Construction Projects Regulation.

Oskam failed to ensure workers were protected from the hazard of falling as required by the regulation and therefore violated the Occupational Health and Safety Act, and was fined $125,000. The company's supervisor on site, Wheeler, also failed to comply and was fined $5,000.

Justice of the Peace Michael Cuthbertson accepted guilty pleas and fined the company and supervisor in Guelph court on March 18. In addition to the fines, the court imposed a 25-per-cent victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act.

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