Excerpt from the Government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’
Essar Steel Algoma Inc. was fined $300,000 for a violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) that caused a worker’s death. The company was fined another $25,000 for a different OHSA violation after a worker was injured in a separate incident.
On July 31, 2008, at the company’s steel mill in Sault Ste Marie, a worker was doing routine maintenance on a truck. As the worker was checking the battery, it exploded, splattering liquid in the worker’s face. The worker attempted to use the emergency eyewash fountain, but it was not working.
Essar Steel Algoma Inc. pleaded guilty to failing to maintain an eyewash fountain and deluge shower in good condition.
In a separate incident at the mill on October 30, 2008, three workers were doing a pre-start check on a conveyor system used to pile rocks. The maintenance team believed the system was empty, but toward the end of the check material appeared on the conveyor above one of the workers. The material, weighing over 125 kilograms, fell onto the worker, killing him.
Essar Steel Algoma Inc. pleaded guilty to failing to ensure appropriate overhead guarding was in place to prevent falling material from injuring a worker.
The fines were imposed by Justice of the Peace Patricia Tennant. In addition to the fines, the court 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.
The law(s) broken,
Essar Steel Algoma Inc. was found guilty of violating section 25, subsection 1(b) which states,
“An employer shall ensure that the measures and procedures prescribed are carried out in the workplace.”
Essar Steel Algoma Inc. was also found guilty of violating section 34(b) of the Ontario ‘Industrial’ regulation 851 which states,
“Guards shall be provided beneath conveyors from which falling material, including broken conveyor parts, may be a hazard to any worker.”
Conveyor guarding has been around for a very long time. Suppliers/manufacturers always include safety features of their tools and components and it is up to the employer to utilize what they have studied and put it into practice. The proper corrective action plane would be to do a walk-around prior to starting the maintenance procedure. The lockout and tagout procedure should not be deemed completed until the entire area was scanned for debris.
The battery issue could have been taken care of if the JHSC, if they had one, would have included the eyewash station in the monthly inspection. The yearly inspection by the senior managers could have included this type of concern as well. Either way, corrective action could have been taken and the injury could have been prevented.
Remember — In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”
‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.
Daniel L. Beal
VP & Senior Trainer