Toronto stone distributor fined in worker injury cases

by MM&D Online Staff

NEWMARKET, Ontario—Ciot Toronto Inc, an importer, distributor and retailer of stone, granite and tile, has pleaded guilty and has been fined a total of $80,000 after two separate incidents in which workers were injured while moving stone slabs. The injuries took place one day apart.

On March 11, 2014, a Ciot worker was assigned the task of removing bundles of stone slabs from a shipping container to place them in a Ciot warehouse located at 8899 Jane Street in Vaughan.

The slabs were stacked vertically in bundles and secured in place with wooden braces. The usual procedure was for a worker to climb to the top of the bundles using a four-foot A-frame ladder, then cut the wooden braces with a reciprocating saw. While still on top of the bundle, the worker would then sling a 40-foot-long chain around the back of the bundle, climb backwards off the bundle and hook the chain to a forklift to pull the stone out of the container.

On this occasion, the worker had the ladder in a folded position leaning against the bundle of stone. The worker climbed up the ladder and began transitioning to the top of the slabs while carrying the 40-foot chain in one hand. The base of the ladder slipped and the worker fell onto the top corner of the stone bundle. An ambulance was called when a co-worker noticed the worker looked unwell. The worker sustained a broken bone and cut. The company received a fine of $20,000 for the incident.

On March 12, 2014, a temporary agency worker who had begun working at another warehouse at 350 Caldari Road in Vaughan the day before was helping a forklift operator—also a temp worker—in moving a number of large stone slabs in the warehouse. The forklift had a boom attachment and scissor clamp; the plan was to use the forklift and scissor clamp to lift and transport the slabs.

Each slab was about 10 feet long and 4-1/2 feet wide and weighed about 700 pounds. The slabs were stored upright on metal A-frames and the workers were moving slabs from one A-frame to another to re-organize the warehouse.

The forklift operator placed the boom and clamp over the slabs. The new worker was using a pry bar to make a space between the stored slabs to allow for the placement of the scissor clamp; the worker pried three slabs apart then walked to the middle of the slabs to release the hatch on the clamp of the boom, which allows the clamp to open and slide over the edge of the slabs. At that point the boom came down quickly and struck the slabs, causing them to fall on the worker in the middle of the slabs.

That worker was taken to hospital and underwent surgery for internal injuries. The company received a $60,000 fine for that incident.

In both cases, the employer failed to follow the requirements of the Occupational Health and Safety Act and Section 45(c) of Ontario Regulation 851 (the Industrial Establishments Regulation). It prescribes that “material, articles or things… to be removed from a storage area, pile or rack, shall be removed in a manner that will not endanger the safety of any worker.”

Justice of the Peace Donovan Robinson accepted guilty pleas and fined the company a total of $80,000 in Newmarket court on March 7.

In addition to the fines, the court imposed a 25-percent 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.