OHS Canada Magazine

Ontario company fined $135,000 following explosion, injuries

Two workers injured while disassembling returned shock strut


An aerostructure company in Woodbridge, Ont., has been fined $135,000 for a 2018 incident that saw two workers injured when a product they were disassembling exploded.

Operated by Noranco, PCC Aerostructures was convicted Dec. 11 following a guilty plea in provincial offences court.

On May 3, 2018, two employees were disassembling a landing gear sub-assembly — known as a shock strut — which had been returned by a customer for a retrofit upgrade.

Unknown to the workers, the shock strut had been returned by the customer fully pressurized with nitrogen.

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During disassembly, the strut exploded, separating the piston from the cylinder. The piston moved upward with such force that it struck the overhead crane it was suspended from, dislodging it from its mooring. The piston and other components struck both workers.

Both workers received critical injuries.

Typically, Noranco’s quality control department reviews returned items before releasing them for work and tags the part to indicate any special warnings to workers.

In this situation, no tag was attached to the shock strut to indicate the part was pressurized. Additionally, this particular disassembly process had never been completed before at Noranco, and there were no written procedures for the task.

In compliance with the Ministry of Labour, the company subsequently implemented policy ensuring all shock struts returned by clients are depressurized.

The company pled guilty to failing to ensure measures and procedures prescribed by section 78(1)(a) of the Industrial Establishments Regulation were carried out in the workplace, contrary to section 25(1)(c) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

That regulation states that “where repairs or alterations are to be made on a drum, tank, pipeline or other container [it] shall have internal pressures adjusted to atmospheric pressure before any fastening is removed.”