Robert C. Nearing Holdings Inc., the operator of a Canadian Tire outlet in Thunder Bay, Ontario has been fined $60,000 after a worker fell from an unguarded mezzanine.
On June 11, 2019, two workers were on a second-storey walkway in a storage area made from shipping containers. The facility was constructed by joining three intermodal shipping containers side by side, then stacking the same size and number of containers on top to create two levels of storage capacity.
Access to the top level was by means of a set of stairs leading to a metal walkway running the width of the joined container fronts. The walkway had a series of upright posts on the side opposite the containers. Across from the entrance to each second-storey container was a chain between posts, which, when removed, allowed access for a forklift to deliver or remove storage items.
The total width of each gap created by removing a chain was 97 inches. If the forks of the forklift were inserted into the gap, an unprotected opening between the forklift’s mast structure and the posts on one or both sides would remain, the width of which depended on placement of the forks. The width of the mast was 42.5 inches.
On the day noted, the employees had been sent to retrieve two boxed barbeques. The chain opposite the entrance to a storage container was removed, and a forklift, operated by a supervisor, was moved to the gap, with the forks extending into the gap.
The two workers removed a barbeque from the container and loaded it onto the forks. They then removed a second barbeque and were in the process of stacking it onto the first.
One worker stepped off the walkway with one foot through the opening, and fell to the ground.
The unprotected opening the worker fell through was 46 inches wide. The height of the walkway surface above the ground was 8 feet, 7.5 inches.
The inspector from the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development investigating the incident ordered that a guardrail complying with the requirements of section 14 of the Regulation for Industrial Establishments (Regulation 851) be installed on the walkway, and that workers be protected from falls when that guardrail is removed.
Those orders were followed. A compliant guardrail was installed and a procedure was developed for working with the guardrail removed.
The company pleaded guilty in provincial offences court in Thunder Bay. The court also imposed a 25-per-cent victim fine surcharge.