Machine & Operator Safety
Operations & Management
Ontario manufacturer fined in death of electrocuted worker
February 1, 2016 by Ontario Ministry of Labour
Feb. 1, 2016 – Ideal Drain Tile Ltd., a manufacturer of high density polyethylene (HDPE) pipe, pleaded guilty and was fined $110,000 in the death of a worker who was working alone and received a fatal electrical shock.
On July 19, 2013, a worker at the company’s Thorndale, Ont., premises was working alone on a machine from an elevated forklift platform — there was no operator at the controls of the forklift as required, and the machine the worker was working on was not powered off, according to the Ontario Ministry of Labour (MOL).
A plug and thermocouple had been removed from the machine and the plug had been disassembled, noted the ministry. With the plug’s parts removed, the prongs of the plug were exposed. The thermocouple would have been measuring the air temperature when removed, and the air temperature would have been below the set point, found the MOL, noting that this triggered the machine’s control panel to send power to the plug in order to heat the machine back to the set-point temperature.
According to the MOL, the worker was found unresponsive on the elevated platform with the exposed and burnt prongs of the plug in hand. The investigation found electrocution as the cause of death.
The worker had been provided generic lock-out training but had not been trained on how to specifically lock out the machine being worked on, noted the MOL.
Ideal Drain Tile pleaded guilty to failing as an employer to ensure that the provisions of Ontario Regulation 851/90 – the Industrial Establishments Regulation – had been complied with. Specifically, it failed to ensure that the controls of the forklift were attended to and operated by another worker while a worker was on the elevated platform.
In addition to the fine, the court 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.