OHS Canada Magazine

Ontario construction firm fined $150K after worker killed on the job


May 3, 2022
By OHS Canada

Compliance & Enforcement Health & Safety fine Fines

An Ontario company has been fined $120,000 — plus a 25 per cent victim surcharge — after a construction worker was killed on the job.

In 2019, Perth County Fabrications  was hired to fabricate and install structural steel upon which concrete would be installed at a construction site for construction of a multi-storey building. Perth employed workers at the project.

Site visit

On Nov. 5, 2019, an engineer conducted a site visit and found that the precast concrete slabs on the second floor of the building under construction did not bear sufficiently on the structural steel beams.

The engineer’s report stated that no load should be placed on top of the concrete slabs until the matter had been addressed properly. The report also recommended that the areas above and below the concrete in question should be taped off so that no person was under or on top of these slabs.

At a meeting between the construction contractors that included Perth, a determination was made that the structural beams in the area in question had been installed incorrectly and a plan was put in place to rectify the problem.

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The plan required the pre-cast concrete contractor to remove the slabs on the offending steel beams, so that Perth could remove the beams and re-install them correctly. However, by Nov. 12, 2019, the concrete contractor had not made arrangements to remove the slabs, as planned.

Supervisor expedited work

A Perth supervisor decided to take steps to expedite the work and directed a worker employed by Peth to remove most of the bolts on the structural beams and cut the rebar connections under the concrete slabs.

The supervisor did not instruct the worker to install bracing to support the concrete slabs once the bolts had been removed.

When the worker cut the rebar under one of the overhead concrete slabs, the slab fell on top of the worker. This resulted in a fatal injury.

An investigation by the Ministry of Labour Training and Skills Development determined that Perth failed to ensure that the concrete slabs were adequately braced to prevent any movement that may affect their stability or cause a failure or collapse, in contravention of section 31(1)(b) of the Regulation for Construction Projects and section 25(1)(c) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. This is an offence contrary to section 66(1) of the Act.

The penalty

Perth pleaded guilty in the Ontario Court of Justice and was fined $120,000 plus a victim surcharge of $30,000 — for a total fine of $150,000.

The surcharge is credited to a special provincial government fund to assist victims of crime.

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