Vale Canada Ltd., a mining and refinery company, has been fined $150,000 after an explosion at a Port Colborne refinery that injured five workers.
On October 18, 2012, a sulphur dust explosion and ensuing fire at a Vale-owned research station in Port Colborne injured the workers. They suffered second-degree burns, bruising and muscle soreness.
The workers in the plant were contract workers from an employment agency.
Vale’s facility was gradually increasing both the size and run of product on the day of the accident and had been running for less than a month at the time of the explosion.
Workers were hit by the force of the explosion and struck by flying debris which caused some workers to fall to the floor; some workers had their clothing burnt. Workers were wearing personal protective equipment, including half-masks, glasses, safety boots, leather gloves and ear plugs.
A Ministry of Labour investigation found that the lack of adequate sulphur dust control and failure to eliminate all potential sources of ignition created a risk of explosion and fire.
Vale Canada Ltd. pleaded guilty to failing as an employer to ensure that the measures and procedures prescribed by law were carried out in the workplace. The charge was laid under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) (Mines and Mining Plants Regulation), Section 25(1)(c).
Justice of the Peace Brett A. Kelly sentenced Vale in St. Catharines Ontario Court of Justice, June 13.
Record Fine: Vale, 2013 – Paralegal SCOPE article