OHS Canada Magazine

Incident at Canadian Tire in Thunder Bay, Ont., results in $60K fine


A fine of $60,000 has been handed down following an incident where a worker fell from a second storey at a Canadian Tire store in Thunder Bay, Ont.

According to a court bulletin, the incident occurred on June 11, 2019. The penalty was handed down Feb. 19, after a ruling that the opening the worker fell through should have had a guardrail to protect workers from injury.

Following a guilty plea in provincial offences court in Thunder Bay, the store operator, Robert C. Holdings Inc., was fined $60,000, alongside a victim surcharge fine of 25 per cent.

The incident occurred at the Canadian Tire outlet at 939 Fort William Road in Thunder Bay.

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What happened?

A worker was requested by a co-worker to go to a storage area behind the auto repair bays of the facility to assist in retrieving two boxed barbecues from storage. The co-worker had been directed to retrieve the items by the store manager.

The storage facility was constructed by joining three “sea-cans” —  intermodal shipping containers — side by side, then stacking the same size and number of containers on top to create two levels of storage capacity. Access to the top level was afforded by means of a set of stairs leading to a metal walkway running the width of the joined container fronts.

The walkway had a series of upright posts on the side opposite the containers. Across from the entrance to each second-storey container was a removable chain between posts, which, when removed, allowed access f or a forklift to deliver or remove storage items.

The total width of each gap created by removing a chain was 97 inches.  If the forks of the forklift were inserted into the gap, an unprotected opening between the forklift’s mast structure and the posts on one or both sides would remain, the width of which depended on placement of the forks. The width of the mast was 42 ½ inches.

On the day noted, the two workers were on the second-storey walkway to retrieve the boxed barbecues. The chain opposite the entrance to a storage container was removed, and a forklift, operated by a supervisor, was moved to the gap, with the forks extending into the gap.

The two workers removed a barbecue from the container and loaded it onto the forks. They then removed a second barbecue and were in the process of stacking it onto the first.

One worker stepped off the walkway with one foot through the opening, and fell to the ground.

The unprotected opening the worker fell through was 46 inches wide. The height of the walkway surface above the ground was 8 feet, 7½ inches.

The inspector from the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development investigating the incident ordered that a guardrail complying with the requirements of section 14 of the Regulation for Industrial Establishments (Regulation 851) be installed on the walkway, and that workers be protected from falls when that guardrail is removed.

Those orders were complied with. A compliant guardrail was installed and a procedure was developed for working with the guardrail removed.