Conviction after worker seriously injured overturned — twice

Conditions leading to accident were unexpected: Court
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 01/09/2013

An Ontario court has overturned an employer’s health and safety conviction for an accident where a demolition worker was seriously injured by a falling piece of duct work.

Simcoe, Ont.-based Rassaun Steel and Manufacturing Co. had a contract to remove equipment — which the company had originally installed a couple of years earlier — from a non-operational foundry in Woodstock, Ont., in 2006. On Sept. 10, 2006, several employees were removing fans, conveyors, shaker cleaners and other pieces of equipment and preparing them for transport. The equipment was connected by a system of duct work that was attached to the fan assembly and weighed about 2,000 pounds. As it turned out, there was also a buildup of sand inside the ducts that contributed to their weight and instability. The workers didn’t inspect the welds of the equipment and ducts because it would have been a long process that would have taken years.

The duct work was supported at three points — a clamp fixed to the ceiling, a brace connected to a column and a vertical cable. At one point, while the equipment was being removed, the duct work shifted so the vertical cable wasn’t supporting it. One employee walked under the duct at the same time as another was unbolting the duct end that connected to the fan assembly. The duct collapsed and fell onto the walking employee, fracturing his skull, pelvis scapula, several ribs and thumb. The employee also had a collapsed lung and a torn aorta.