2 workers' injuries from explosion result in $168,750 fine

Landing gear returned by a customer was pressurized, unbeknownst to workers

2 workers' injuries from explosion result in $168,750 fine

Noranco, carrying on business as PCC Aerostructure GTA, has been fined a total of $168,750 for an incident where two workers were injured when a landing-gear component they were attempting to disassemble exploded under pressure. The Woodbridge, Ont.,-based company was fined $135,000, plus a 25 per cent victim fine surcharge of $33,750.

On May 3, 2018, two workers were attempting to disassemble a landing gear sub-assembly known as a shock strut that had been returned to Noranco by a customer for a retrofit upgrade. The shock strut was suspended from an overhead crane. Unknown to the two workers, the shock strut had been returned by the customer fully pressurized with nitrogen.

During disassembly, the strut exploded, separating the piston from the cylinder. The piston was moving upward with such force that it struck the overhead crane and dislodged it from its mooring, forcing it to the ground. The piston and other components struck both workers. Both workers received critical injuries.

The unit returned by the client had been installed on an aircraft and had been pressurized.

Noranco's quality control department reviews returned items before releasing them for work and tags the part to indicate any special warnings to workers. No tag was attached to the shock strut to indicate the part was pressurized.

This disassembly process had never been done before at Noranco for a pressurized returned part; there were no written procedures for the task.

In compliance with an order from the Ministry of Labour, Noranco subsequently implemented a policy to ensure that all shock struts returned by a customer are depressurized, a procedure put in place to ensure any residual pressure is released prior to disassembly, and that a secondary restraint cable is to remain in place until a strut unit is fully depressurized to atmospheric pressure.

Noranco pleaded guilty to failing as an employer to ensure that the measures and procedures prescribed by section 78(1)(a) of the Industrial Establishments Regulation were carried out in the workplace, contrary to section 25(1)(c) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. That regulation states that "where repairs or alterations are to be made on a drum, tank, pipeline or other container [it] shall have internal pressures adjusted to atmospheric pressure before any fastening is removed."

Source: Ontario Ministry of Labour