Close-calls and no-calls can attract significant fines under the OHSA

Employers are generally aware of the significant fines that can be imposed under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (the “OHSA”) when there is a workplace incident that results in the injury or death of a worker. However, employers may be surprised to learn the extent of the fines the Ministry of Labour can seek in “close call” situations where nobody was hurt, or even in cases where there was no incident involving a worker.

The following is a list of recent fines imposed on employers who pleaded guilty to charges under the OHSA in “no injury” or “no incident” cases. The information regarding the fines and the summary of the facts is based on news releases prepared by the Ministry of Labour.

No injury cases

  • Formwork company: Workers involved in the construction of a condo building were moving a large piece of equipment called a “fly table”. As the equipment was being hoisted it became unbalanced and slid to the ground. No worker was struck by the falling fly table. The employer pleaded guilty to failing to ensure that every part of a project is constructed so it is supported and braced to prevent movement that may cause its failure or collapse.

Fine: $50,000 (employer) + $5,000 (supervisor and worker)

  • Construction company: Workers were installing street lamp posts. As they were placing a lamp post in an excavation, the lamp post struck an overhead power line, causing the system ground neutral conductor to be burned and severed. There were no injuries to the workers. The employer pleaded guilty to failing ensure that the workers had received adequate training about working with overhead power lines, and to failing to ensure that no objects are brought within 3 meters of energized overhead power lines.

Fine: $40,000 (employer) + $8,000 (owner)

  • Gas distribution company: Workers were installing a section of natural gas pipe. The workers noticed natural gas leaking from a previously installed section of pipe and the site was evacuated. Shortly afterwards, the natural gas ignited, resulting in a fire. Nobody was injured. The employer pleaded guilty to failing to take the reasonable precaution of ensuring that acceptable fabrication practices were used.

Fine: $50,000

  • Retailer: A worker was using a forklift to remove a pallet containing cases of beer from a storage rack. The pallet knocked part of the rack, which became unstable. Several cases of beer fell and landed on the forklift. The worker was able to jump from the forklift and was unharmed. The employer pleaded guilty to failing to ensure that materials removed from a storage rack were removed in a way that would not endanger the safety of the worker.

Fine: $50,000

No incident cases

  • Construction company: The company was constructing a hotel and retail space. A Ministry of Labour inspector conducted a routine inspection of the project. The inspector noticed that the entranceways to and from the area were obstructed and issued an order to keep the routes clear. When the inspector visited the project the next day, the entranceways were still not clear. The employer was found guilty of failing to keep the routes clear and of failing to comply with an order or requirement of an inspector.

Fine: $65,000 (employer) + $2,000 (supervisor)

  • Mining company: An inspector visited a mine. After reviewing the mine’s training records, the inspector determine that one of the mine’s workers was not registered as fully trained in all of the prescribed training programs for work in a hard rock underground mine. The employer pleaded guilty to failing to ensure that a worker was trained as prescribed.

Fine: $50,000

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