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Ontario contractor hit with $150,000 fine after excavation fatality

Company pled guilty to 2018 incident


A sewer and watermain contractor in Brussels, Ont., was fined $150,000 on Nov. 26, after issuing a guilty plea in a workplace accident that turned deadly.

On May 30, 2018, a Kurtis Smith Excavating worker was killed when struck by a 1,600-pound bollard made of steel and cement that fell into an excavation.

The incident took place at a site in southwestern Ontario, near the town of Listowel.

The provincial offences court in Stratford, Ont., also imposed a 25-per-cent victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act. The surcharge is credited to a special provincial government fund to assist victims of crime.

The fatality occurred while a crew was grading a parking lot and reinstalling four metal bollards into a four-foot excavation to protect a wellhead.

The bollards being installed weighed approximately nine feet tall and 1,600 pounds each. A portion of the bollard rests underground, while the rest acts as a guardrail to prevent vehicles from hitting the wellhead.

The fourth bollard could not be lowered into the excavation while in the bucket because there was insufficient room in the excavation to allow the bucket to manoeuvre, according to a news release by the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development.

The final bollard slipped out of the choked chain wrapped around the handle and fell, striking and killing the worker in the hole.

An investigation by the ministry found the chain used was not designed for this type of work and was not equipped with appropriate safety mechanisms.

None of the workers involved in the incident had received hoisting or rigging training.