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2013 Workplace Safety and Health Precedents and Local Manitoba Enforcement

Happy New Year! It’s been a while since we have focused on the heavy handed side of Workplace Safety and Health compliance. As always our goal is prevention. We hope that this knowledge and experience can be shared to prevent serious incidents and avoidable loss to your people and your business.

2013 saw some startling precedents that all employers should take notice of:

September 2013, Vale Canada was fined over $1,000,000.00, the largest fine ever in Ontario enforcementhistory for the deaths of two workers. In June 2008 the two workers were transferring muck (broken rock and ore) using a remote control pendant to operate a gate. Although there was a protected area for workers at that location, in order to view the movement of muck and use the remote pendant, the two workers had to position themselves such that they were in front of and fully exposed to the transfer gate. Both workers died from massive crush injuries when there was a sudden and uncontrolled release of muck, sand, and water. A Ministry of Labour investigation found that there had been a hang-up of wet muck in the ore pass. The wet muck was a result of Vale not dealing with water issues in the mine.

In November 2013, Vale Canada in Thompson, Manitoba was charged on 10 counts for the fatality of a worker. A spokesperson with the province said penalties could include a fine of up to $250,000 per charge for a total not exceeding $2,500,000. In addition, a term of imprisonment not exceeding six months could be ordered.

2013 also saw Metron Construction fined $750,000 for the actions of a dead supervisor. In September 2013, Metron Construction was convicted under the Criminal Code (aka Bill C-45) and fined $750,000. On Christmas Eve in 2009, three workers and a site supervisor in Toronto plunged to their deaths. Near the end of the working day, five workers and the supervisor boarded a swing stage to travel from the 14th floor of an apartment block to the ground. There were only two safety harnesses with a lanyard attached to serve as fall protection equipment. With the combined weight of the workers and the equipment, the swing stage collapsed. Three workers and the supervisor, none of whom were secured by a lifeline, fell to their deaths. (Download our newsletter to read more about these prosecutions)

Local Manitoba Prosecutions and Administrative Penalties in 2013 included 260 STOP WORK ORDERS issued in a 6 month period (that’s an average for 28 a month!), 17 Administrative penalties ranging from $1000 - $5000 and several “COR Certified” companies being prosecuted.

To read more including what the stop work orders and administrative penalties were for and tips from our senior safety professionals about how to avoid Stop Work Orders in your workplace, download our January 2014 Newsletter.

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Production Manager, Paramount Windows