Ontario company fined $250,000 after worker killed by flywheel that detached in ‘explosive fashion’
Health & Safety Fines ontario workplace fatality
An Ontario company has been fined at total of $250,000 after a worker was killed by a large flywheel in Tiverton, Ont.
Western Mechanical Electrical Millwright Services, based in Barrie, Ont., plead guilty in court and was fined $200,000, plus a 25 per cent victim fine surcharge.
On June 14, 2021, a worker was tasked with disassembling a decommissioned Primary Heat Transport Pump Motor at a facility where the company was performing contracted work. While attempting to remove a large flywheel from the motor’s hub, a supervisor connected hydraulic pressure to the hub.
Once the hydraulic pressure was applied, the supervisor began increasing the level of pressure to free the flywheel. This inadvertently caused the flywheel to move off the hub suddenly in an explosive fashion. The flywheel struck the worker causing a fatal injury.
A Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development investigation revealed that the flywheel was attached to a rotating shaft. The flywheel measured 72 inches in diameter, was 6.5 inches thick and weighed approximately 7,200 pounds.
Additionally, the investigation revealed that the strong back bar and threaded rods, attached to the motor to remove the flywheel manually, were not installed in accordance with the flywheel removal instructions and could not be used to remove the flywheel.
No hazard zone around motor
The investigation revealed that there was no denoted hazard zone placed around the motor once the decision was made to use hydraulic pressure to remove the flywheel. There were no precautions or other safeguards, such as the use of a restraining device in place, to ensure that the movement of the flywheel did not endanger the safety of the worker and supervisor.
The investigation further determined that while the supervisor had experience reviewing drawings similar to drawings provided by the facility where the work was being done, no one from the company had reviewed the motor disassembly job with the workers or reviewed the process of removing the flywheel safely from the motor.
Section 45(a) of Regulation 851, the Regulations for Industrial Establishments, requires that where materials, articles or things are required to be lifted, carried or moved, they shall be lifted, carried or moved in such a way and with such precautions and safeguards, including protective clothing, guards or other precautions as will ensure that the lifting, carrying or moving of the materials, articles or things does not engender the safety of any worker.
Section 25(1)(c) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, requires an employer to ensure that the measures and procedures prescribed by section 45(a) are carried out at a workplace.
As such, the Company failed to comply with section 45(a) by failing to ensure that a flywheel was lifted or moved in such a way and with precautions and safeguards to ensure that the lifting or moving of the flywheel did not endanger a worker.