Worker killed when ejected from elevated work platform

Ontario restoration company fined $125,000

Universal Structural Restoration (USRL), a construction restoration company specializing in balcony reconstruction, waterproofing, garage slab rehabilitation and structural repairs, has been fined $125,000, plus a 25 per cent victim fine surcharge.

The company had been hired to repair damaged brickwork on the exterior walls, window painting and flashing of a building in Toronto.

A company-owned power elevated work platform known as a Genie Boom was brought to the project to allow workers to reach the upper levels of the building. The boom has a worker platform, containing operational controls and can be elevated to 60 feet by a hydraulically powered jib and primary and secondary booms. The booms are attached to the body of the equipment which moves at ground level on four wheels.

On Aug. 19, 2016, the equipment was positioned on sheets of plywood on the grass surface on a slight slope. While elevating the platform to a height of between 50 to 60 feet, the equipment lost stability and was out of control, then tipped over. The worker was ejected from the platform and landed on a concrete driveway, suffering fatal injuries.

The Ontario Ministry of Labour investigated and an MOL engineer examined the equipment and ground conditions to determine the cause of the tip over.

The boom's equipment included two limit switches that functioned to sense when the primary boom was raised or extended. It was determined that one of the limit switches located at the end of the secondary boom was tied back with a piece of green wire. The arm of the second limit switch at the side of the primary boom was folded back so that it did not function either.

Defeating the limit switches in this fashion resulted in the electronic control system for the boom to sense that the boom was always in the stowed (or lower) position, regardless of the actual position of the primary boom, so that lock-out wedges would not extend to stabilize the boom. 

The service manual for the boom stated the importance of the lock-out wedges and that the machine could tip over.

The slope of the incident area was a contributing factor because the boom sections were only permitted by the manufacturer to be raised or extended on level ground.

Section 95(2) of the Construction Projects Regulation (Regulation 213/91) states that "[N]o modification to, extension to, repair to or replacement of a part of a vehicle, machine, tool or equipment shall result in a reduction of the safety factor of the vehicle, machine, tool or equipment." The defendant failed to ensure that the measures and procedures prescribed by this provision were carried out at the workplace, contrary to section 25(1)(c) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.  

Source: Ontario Ministry of Labour