Former construction supervisor fined in fatal workplace explosion

Supervisor failed to ensure a fire extinguisher was readily available

Former construction supervisor fined in fatal workplace explosion

Tony Ventrone, a former construction supervisor at Infrastructure Coatings (Ontario) Corporation, has been fined $70,000 following a workplace fatality that occurred on August 5, 2020. The conviction came after a guilty plea in the Ontario Court of Justice in Newmarket, Ontario.

The incident took place at the intersection of Highway 407 and Islington Avenue in Woodbridge, Ontario, where Infrastructure Coatings (Ontario) Corporation had been contracted to perform infrastructure protective coating services. The company had been working on a project involving the re-lining of an underground water chamber as part of a watermain remediation initiative, under a contract with the Regional Municipality of York.

The company was using a spray waterproofing substance. The project had undergone inspections, with a specific area identified as requiring re-spraying due to its spongy condition. Workers had completed the Confined Space Entry Permit and established necessary safety measures, including rescue and ventilation equipment, for the repairs and cleaning within the chamber.

On the day of the incident, a worker and a supervisor, acting as a safety watch, had prepared the chamber for repairs and cleaning. A worker was attempting to expedite the drying process using a propane torch, which led to the ignition of Methyl Ethyl Ketone (MEK) fumes that had accumulated in the chamber, sparking an explosion. The worker died from injuries sustained in the blast.

It was determined that Ventrone, the construction supervisor at the time, failed in his responsibilities as a supervisor by not ensuring the availability of fire extinguishing equipment at the project site where open-flame operations were being carried out. This negligence directly contradicted the safety regulations set forth by Ontario Regulation 213/91 and the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

The case underscores the crucial importance of adhering to fire safety regulations and ensuring the availability of necessary safety equipment at workplaces. The incident serves as a reminder of the potential consequences when proper safety protocols are not followed.