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Steel fabricator fined $70K for worker injury after explosion


An Ontario steel fabricator has been fined $70,000 in provincial court after pleading guilty to a charge involving a worker’s critical injury in an explosion at its Sudbury facility.

Noront Steel (1981) Limited also received 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 incident took place on August 24, 2018. An investigation by the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development found that when Noront produced small steel objects, it stored and shipped them in 45-gallon steel drums. The drums were obtained used from other facilities.

Typically the top of the drum would be cut off at Noront using an oxy-acetylene torch, and holes would be cut in the bottom of the barrel for drainage purposes. The barrels would be worked on in the condition they were received; they were not cleaned out first.

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On the date of the incident, a worker was cutting drainage holes into a drum with a torch when the barrel exploded into flames. The worker received critical injuries.

Investigation by the Centre for Forensic Sciences determined that the barrel contained flammable substances, including acetone, methyl ethyl ketone and toluene.

The Industrial Establishments Regulation requires that when alterations are made on a container, they must be drained and cleaned to ensure flammable substances are removed.

The barrel that exploded had not been rendered free from explosive and flammable substances before being provided to the worker for cutting. The contents of the barrel were not communicated to the worker and the label on the barrel indicated its contents were a substance that was not combustible.