Leaps, Falls, Fires, Cuts: March OHSA Fines


Ontario employers — and an employee — have been fined recently, after prosecutions for workplace incidents, under the Provincial Offences Act.


Justice Peter H. Wilkie fined Vomar Industries Inc. of LaSalle, Manitoba, operating as Tank Traders, $55,000 for failing to protect workers and improperly handling propane. The company pleaded guilty and was sentenced March 26.

The charges stem from a 2010 a fire at the St. Catharines-area propane filling and distribution centre, in which about 30,000 propane tanks and three trucks were damaged. No one was injured as a result of the incident, although employees were present when the fire began and could have been injured. Such facilities are licensed under the Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA).

Vomar pleaded guilty to failing to take the reasonable precaution of ensuring that propane cylinders at a workplace were stored in a manner that did not endanger a worker, and received a fine of $25,000. The company also pleaded guilty to a count under laws governing propane storage and handling for filling propane cylinders that were damaged, leaking or corroded, and received a fine of $30,000.

The company no longer performs propane filling at the Smithville location.

The sentence was handed down March 26 in St. Catharines Ontario Provincial Court.

Maple Leaf Worker Loses Fingers

Maple Leaf Foods Inc., carrying on business as Maple Leaf Consumer Foods and Cappola Food, has been fined $110,000 after a worker lost fingers in a chopping machine.

On July 10, 2012, a worker at Maple Leaf’s North York meat processing plant was operating a meat chopper machine. The worker lifted a cage enclosing a moving blade, to unhook some stuck meat and his hand came into contact with the blade. The worker lost an undisclosed number of fingers.

A Ministry of Labour investigation found that Maple Leaf failed as an employer to ensure that a part of a machine was cleaned only when danger to a worker had stopped. The company was convicted under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), Section 25(1)(c).

Justice of the Peace David J. Hunt imposed the fine March 20, in Toronto.

Unsafe Design Contributed to Injury

In Windsor Provincial Offences Court, Justice of the Peace Susan Hoffman fined South Essex Fabricating Inc., of Leamington, for an offence under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, Section 25(1)(c). The greenhouse constructor was fined $65,000 for a 2011 incident in which a worker fell from an elevating work platform and was injured.

A Ministry of Labour investigation found that the worker was operating the scissor lift and, while it was fully extended, it tipped over. Instructions for the scissor lift specified that it was not to be operated while extended. The lift had also not been designed by a professional engineer, in accordance the National Standards of Canada for self-propelled elevating work platforms.

The company pleaded guilty to failing to ensure that a hydraulic scissor lift met the design requirements.

Fall Causes Broken Ankles for Roofer

A Whitby roofing company was fined $60,000 March 19, for a 2012 accident in which a worker’s heals were broken in a fall.

At an Uxbridge home, the worker had been using a restraint system that was attached to the roof by half of one nylon anchor strap. The nylon anchor strap was not wrapped around a “structural member,” as specified in an instruction manual; instead, it was screwed into wood. The nylon anchor strap pulled free from the roof and the worker fell.

An investigation showed the worker had received no training in the use of the anchor strap.

Burton Roofing was found guilty of failing to ensure compliance with Ontario’s construction regulation, which specifies that all tools and equipment must be used in accordance with any operating manuals issued by the manufacturers.

The company was also found guilty of failing as an employer to provide information, instruction and supervision to a worker to protect the worker’s health and safety, and of failing to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances.

Justice of the Peace Leona M. Dombrowsky levied the fine for violations of OHSA Sections 23(1)(a), 25(2)(a) and 25(2)(h).

Company and Director Fined

After an ex-parte trial, a contracting company and its director have been fined $38,000 for failing to comply with OHSA.

Justice of the Peace Mindy Avrich-Skapinker fined Starland Contracting Ltd.:

  • $14,000 for failing to ensure that a worker was adequately protected by fall protection
  • $1,500 for failing to ensure that a worker was wearing protective headwear
  • $14,000 for failing to comply with an order issued by an inspector

Murad Ebeid was fined:

  • $5,000 for hindering, obstructing, molesting and interfering with an inspector
  • $3,500 for refusing to provide information requested by an inspector.

The charges date back to 2010, when a Ministry of Labour inspector visited a construction project where Starland Contracting Ltd. had been hired to build a self-service car wash. The inspector noticed a worker on the roof of the car wash without fall protection or a hard hat. Follow-up visits identified more problems and orders were issued.

Convictions were entered under OHSA Sections 23(1)(a), 62(1), 62(3)(a) and 66(b); and Ontario Regulations 213/91, Section 22.1 and Section 26.1(2) .

The trial was conducted at Ontario Court of Justice, 70 Centre Ave., Toronto.

No Leaping Across Tall Buildings!

The Ministry of Labour has released information related to a sentence last November. Christopher Schwaemmie, a Toronto hoist worker, was fined $1,500 for a violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

In October 2011, Schwaemmie was on a hoist tower at a construction project at 717 Sheppard Avenue West in Toronto. A Ministry of Labour inspector saw him jump from the tower to a nearby roof. He was wearing a fall protection harness and lanyard, but the lanyard was not tied off to anything.

Schwaemmie pleaded guilty to failing to be adequately protected by a method of fall protection while exposed to a fall of more than three metres, under the OHSA Section 28(1)(a) and Ontario Regulation 213/91, Section 26.1 (2).


A 25-per-cent victim fine surcharge is added to OHSA fines, as required by the Provincial Offences Act. The surcharge is credited to a special provincial government fund to assist victims of crime.


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