Ontario town fined $60,000 after summer student’s hand is crushed

Summer students were given instructions and then sent to repair storm drains unsupervised
|employmentlawtoday.com|Last Updated: 07/31/2012

An Ontario town must pay a fine of $60,000 after a summer student was injured doing unsupervised work with heavy materials in storm drains.

The Corporation of the Town of Pelham, Ont., used student workers in the summer of 2011 for tasks such as repairing the lids of catch basins in storm drains, which catch debris. On Aug. 25, 2011, a group of summer students were assigned such a job. A manager gave them instructions and sent them off to do the job without supervision.

As the student workers proceeded, one worker lifted the lid of a catch basin with a pickaxe so another worker could apply tape to the basin. While the second worker's hand was in the basin, the lid slipped from the pickaxe and crushed that worker's hand.

A Ministry of Labour investigation found that the workers did not have a direct supervisor and they had not been shown how to do the job before. Simply giving them instructions and sending them to repair the catch basins alone was contrary to the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act.

The town was fined $60,000 for failing to provide adequate information and instruction to the workers on how to safely repair the catch basins.

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