Fall Through Skylight, Finger Severed – Recent OHSA Fines

Photo: Deutsche-fototheke

Photo: Deutsche-fototheke

Symtech Innovations Ltd., a construction company, has been fined $90,000 for an incident in which a worker died after falling through a skylight.

In February, 2012, employees of Symtech were on a job site in Toronto, installing solar panels on the rooftop of an industrial building. The rooftop had a large surface area divided down the middle by a row of about 20 skylight openings that had their skylights in place. The skylights looked down into the building through to the main floor, approximately 5 metres below.

A worker employed by Symtech as an acting foreperson at the project site slipped on the rooftop and reached out to brace his fall on a skylight. The skylight did not support the worker’s weight and the worker fell through it to the floor below. The worker died about a week later, from the resulting injuries.

    No Guardrails as Required

An investigation of the incident by the Ministry of Labour revealed that no guardrails or protective coverings were installed around or over any of the skylights on the rooftop, as required by law.

Symtech Innovations Ltd. pleaded guilty to failing as an employer to install protective coverings over skylights located on the roof while work was proceeding. The company was fined $90,000.

Judge Geraldine N. Sparrow sentenced Symtech July 30, at Ontario Court of Justice, Old City Hall, Toronto.

Charges had been laid under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, Section 25(1)(c) and Ontario Regulation 213/91 (Construction Projects Regulation), Section 26.3(2)2.

    Finger Caught in Machine With No Pinch-Point Guard

Erie Greenhouse Structures Inc., a company that produces and installs greenhouses and related equipment in Tillsonburg, has been fined $73,000 after a worker lost part of a finger in machinery.

On June 27, 2012, a worker was welding pieces of metal at the company plant in Tillsonburg. The welder was using a brake press to form metal into a tobacco bin when a finger was pinched in the machine’s pinch point. As a result, the welder lost most of the finger. A Ministry of Labour investigation followed.

It was determined that: the brake press was not maintained in good condition; that two of three methods of operation were not working; and that the machine was not guarded at its pinch point as required.

    Committee Contravention Found

The investigation also found that there was an administrative contravention about the workplace Joint Health and Safety Committee. A workplace that employs between 20 and 49 workers must have a Joint Health and Safety Committee, and have at least two workers on the committee. Erie Greenhouse Structures employs 22 workers, including the welder who was injured.

No one acting for Erie Greenhouse Structures attended the trial. The company was found guilty on three counts and fined a total of $73,000. A charge against a supervisor is pending and is expected to be tried in September.

Justice of the Peace Robert M. Seneshen passed sentence July 23, in the Woodstock County Courthouse. Charges had been filed under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, Section 9(4) and Section 25(1)(b) and Ontario Regulation 851 (Industrial Establishments), Section 25(1)(c).

In addition to the fines, courts impose 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.


Related Information
Roofer, Enbridge Fined in Separate Worker Deaths

Supervisor Jailed for OHSA Violation, Lying to Investigators

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