Safety hazard outweighs owning up to misconduct

Worker suspended for absent-minded mistake
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 03/06/2013

A Manitoba employee’s mistake that caused a safety hazard in the workplace was worthy of a two-day suspension, an arbitrator has ruled.

Scott Grant was an operator in the Winnipeg plant of Interprovincial Cooperative (ICL), a manufacturer of agricultural products such as herbicides and pesticides. Grant was initially hired in 1998 as a production worker and was later promoted to the position of operator.

On Jan. 25, 2012, Grant was formulating an herbicide out of raw materials including a chemical solution called DMA, an acid and water. DMA was a dangerous chemical that required careful handling and the close following of the formulation procedure for the herbicide. Water had to be added to the mixer — a receptacle in which the ingredients were combined to make the herbicide — first, so it would suppress the chemical reaction when the DMA and the other ingredient were mixed together. Without water, the chemicals would form a toxic vapour cloud that could cause skin and eye burns and heat the mixer to the point where an explosion could occur.