WELLAND, Ont. – Welded Tube of Canada Limited, based in Concord, Ontario has been fined $120,000 after a worker was critically injured at a worksite in Welland, Ontario.
The company makes cold formed carbon steel and high strength low alloy steel tubes.
On May 5, 2017 an employee 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 personnel 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.
Under section 25(2)(h) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, an employer must take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker at a workplace. 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 act.
The company pleaded guilty and in addition to the $120,000 fine, the justice of the peace also imposed a 25 per cent victim impact surcharge on Welded Tube of Canada.