OHS Canada Magazine

National Steel Car fined $175K after worker killed while operating lift in Hamilton

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July 26, 2023
By OHS Canada

Health & Safety Fines Hamilton National Steel Car

National Steel Car’s facility in Hamilton. Photo: Google Streetview

National Steel Car has been fined $140,000, plus a victim fine surcharge, after one of its workers was killed on the job at its facility in Hamilton.

On April 23, 2021, two workers were tasked with painting a railcar inside a large industrial sized paint booth. The first worker assisted by preparing the paint while the second did the spray painting.

The spray paint preparation work involved covering both sides of the railcar wheels with burlap to protect the wheels from paint splatter. To reach the wheels, the second worker had to enter a personnel lift and position it close to the railcar. To reach the back of the wheels, the worker had to lean forward with their body partly outside of the lift.

After observing the second worker enter the lift, the first worker left the area temporarily.

When they returned, they noticed that their colleague was slouched over the top railing of the personnel lift, with the lift in a position above the wheels of the rail car and moving upward.
The first worker shouted for help and, along with other workers, removed their colleague from the lift. However, the second worker was fatally injured.


A Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development investigation determined that at the time of the incident, the personnel lift did not have a functional safety release mechanism.

National Steel Car Limited failed to maintain in good condition the safety release button inside the personnel lift, contrary to section 25(1) (b) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
Following the incident, National Steel Car implemented measures aimed at preventing a similar incident from re-occurring. National Steel Car implemented a safety checklist which now requires employees to record, in writing, at the beginning of every shift whether personnel lifts are fully operational and safe to use.

As well, after the incident, National Steel Car hired a third-party cleaning company to clean and remove paint from the personnel lifts between every shift and every rail car manufactured.

Following a guilty plea in the Ontario Court of Justice, National Steel Car Limited was fined $140,000. The court also imposed a 25 per cent victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act, bringing the total fine to $175,000.


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