ON Employer Fined for Worker Injury

MONDAY, APRIL 15, 2024

A coatings manufacturing company and a temporary help agency in Ontario were both recently fined after a worker at the coating company’s facility was injured by an in-floor auger system.

According to Occupational Safety, West End Manufacturing Inc. and Liiman Employment Inc. were fined $55,000 and $75,000, respectively, after pleading guilty in the Ontario Court of Justice for violating rules in the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

What Happened

In May 2023, a temporary foreign worker hired by Liiman was assigned to work at the powder coatings facility owned by West End.

The facility reportedly contains a paint shop with booths for abrasive blasting, powder-coating and baking metal. In the abrasive blasting booth, there is an auger system that collects sand particles in a trough in the floor, which have metal grates to prevent access to the augers.

An investigation found that one of the metal bars over the trough containing the center auger was reportedly damaged past repair and had to be removed, leaving a dangerous gap in the floor. During their shift, the temporary worker happened to step through this gap and got caught in the moving auger, subsequently experiencing serious injuries.

The Ontario government explained that West End did not work properly to ensure the measures and procedures under the Regulation for Industrial Establishments were fulfilled at the workplace, contrary to Ontario's Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Additionally, it was reportedly determined that Liiman Employment had failed as an employer to provide information, instruction and supervision to a worker.

Justice of the Peace Michele Thompson determined that the employer and agency will have to pay 25% of victim fine surcharges that are required by the Provincial Offences Act. This will then reportedly be credited to a special provincial government fund to assist future victims of crime.

Other Ontario Workplace Incidents

In August 2023, the Ontario Court of Justice convicted a former coatings contractor supervisor after a worker died in 2020 when the relining of a water chamber led to an explosion.

A news release from the Ontario government stated that Tony Ventrone pled guilty and was fined $70,000 after being convicted earlier this month for not ensuring a safe workplace, resulting in the incident.

According to an article from Newmarket Today, the incident occurred when Ventrone was working as a construction supervisor of the Vaughan-based Infrastructure Coatings (Ontario) Corporation.

Infrastructure Coatings (Ontario) Corporation was reportedly under contract to the Regional Municipality of York to re-line an underground water chamber with a spray waterproofing as part of a water main remediation project.

The corporation reportedly applied the waterproof coating to the chamber in July 2020. A follow-up inspection then revealed that a corner of the chamber was spongy and required re-spraying so the company returned and cut out the spongy area.

On Aug. 5, 2020, workers reportedly returned once again to respray the coating, with access to the 17-foot-deep chamber through a manhole and ladder. According to reports, when repairs were completed, a worker used flammable methyl ethyl ketone to clean the chamber.

Reports added that there was no fire extinguisher at the scene, which goes against Ontario regulations and the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The worker reportedly died from his injuries several days later.

The province stated that Ventrone was in his truck at the site during the time of the incident, but not present at the scene and that he “failed, as a supervisor, to ensure that fire extinguishing equipment was provided and readily accessible at a project where open-flame operations were carried out.”

The court reportedly imposed a 25% victim fines surcharge as required under the Provincial Offences Act, which was to go towards a government fund to help victims of crime.


Tagged categories: Accidents; Coating Materials; Coatings Technology; Government; Health & Safety; Health and safety; Lawsuits; NA; North America; Powder Coatings; Program/Project Management; Safety; Violations; Workers

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