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Welded Tube fined $120K for critical worker injury


December 18, 2018
By Ontario Ministry of Labour

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December 18, 2018 – Welded Tube of Canada Limited, a cold-formed carbon steel and high-strength, low-alloy steel tube manufacturer, has been fined $120,000 in provincial offences court following a guilty plea after a worker injury at its plant in Welland, Ontario last spring.

The incident occurred on May 5, 2017.  A one-ton steel pipe came into contact with a worker, critically injuring the person.

According to the Ministry of Labour’s investigation, on the day of the incident, a worker was working as a furnace assistant. One task was to ensure the metal pipes coming out of the furnace moved along two transfer tables to the second part of the finishing process.

During the shift, a metal pipe became stuck on one of the transfer tables. Accordingly, the machine was shut down by the furnace operator. Once shut down, the furnace assistant went between the two transfer tables to adjust the sensor on the transfer table.

After completing this task, the furnace assistant used a two-way radio and asked the furnace operator if the issue had been resolved.

The furnace operator misunderstood the message and as a result re-started the machine while the furnace assistant was still between the two transfer tables. This caused the transfer table to move up and begin the process of transferring the steel pipe onto the second table.

Due to the furnace assistant’s position, the steel pipe, weighing approximately one ton, was transferred onto the furnace worker’s body and resulted in a critical injury. Emergency services personel were called to the workplace to remove the steel pipe from the injured worker and transfer the worker to hospital.

The Ministry of Labour’s investigation found that there were issues with the clarity and the quality of the two-way radios being used. It was also discovered that some of the employees did not know how to properly use the radio communication system that was put in place by the defendant.

The ministry says that by failing to have a safe and effective communication system for the protection of its workers, Welded Tube did not comply with its obligation under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, which is to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect workers.

The court also imposed a 25-per-cent victim fine surcharge, which is applied to a special provincial government fund to assist victims of crime.