OHS Canada Magazine

Steel plant injuries result in $115K fine for Ontario company


An Ontario company has been fined $115,000 for injuries that occurred at a steel plant in Whitby, Ont., in 2018.

Gerdau Ameristeel Inc. in Cambridge, Ont., was convicted Dec. 17.

The incident saw two workers injured after being struck with a piece of waste material that fell from a furnace. There was no overhead protection to protect the workers from the hazards of falling material.

Alongside the penalty, a 25 per cent victim fine surcharge was also imposed, according to a court bulletin.

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Details are as follows:

  • On Nov. 12, 2018, a fire occurred in the back of a furnace in the Whitby plant. The fire was immediately extinguished but a hydraulic hose was damaged and required replacement. Two workers were assigned to perform the repair work.
  • The workers began the repair and were working directly underneath the outer edge of the furnace roof/lid which had been swung out to expose the burnt hydraulic hose for repair.
  • As the workers were removing the hydraulic hose, a large piece of waste material known in the industry as “slag” became dislodged and fell about 15 feet, striking both workers. It was estimated that the slag weighed approximately 80 pounds.
  • Emergency services were contacted and the two workers were transported to Oshawa Lakeridge Hospital. The two workers suffered extensive and critical injuries from the strike.

The Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development investigated and determined that there was no overhead protection provided by Gerdau to protect the workers from the hazards of falling material.

Section 25(1)(c) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act provides that an employer shall ensure that the measures and procedures prescribed are carried out in the workplace.

Section 35 of the Ontario Regulation 851 (the Industrial Establishments Regulation) states that overhead protection shall be provided where falling material may endanger any worker.