Employer failed to take the reasonable precaution of ensuring that the internal pressure of the drain pipeline was released before the cap was loosened
The Corporation of the City of London in Ontario was fined $70,000 for failing, as an employer, to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker, which is an offense under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
The employer pleaded guilty in provincial offences court in London and was also imposed a 25-per-cent victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act. The surcharge is credited to a special provincial government fund to assist victims of crime.
The incident took place on Oct. 16, 2018, when a crew of workers from the Water Operations Division of the City of London was instructed by their supervisor to prepare the water drain chamber, located in a ravine near 517 Fanshawe Park Road. The chamber was to receive water drained out from the main water line so that a new valve could be added to the main water line the next day.
To prepare, they needed to confirm that the valve connecting the six-inch drain pipeline to the main water line was closed and pumping out the ground water in the water drain chamber. Part of the task was removing a mechanical joint cap assembly installed at the end of a water line drain pipeline protruding into the chamber, so that the water in the main water line could be drained out through the drain pipeline and into the water drain chamber.
One of the workers was inside the water drain chamber, attempting to remove the mechanical joint cap assembly covering the end of the drain pipeline. To do so, the worker began loosening the top two bolts of the mechanical joint cap assembly.
The worker noticed water spraying as well as a hissing sound coming from the mechanical joint cap assembly, indicating that pressure had built up inside the drain pipeline.
The worker stepped back slightly from the joint cap assembly. As the worker was communicating with co-workers, the pressurized joint cap assembly shot off from the drain pipeline and struck the worker, causing critical injuries.
Investigation found that “the employer failed to take the reasonable precaution of ensuring that the internal pressure of the drain pipeline was released before the mechanical joint end cap was removed and/or loosened. This was contrary to section 25(2)(h) of the act,” said the Ontario government.
Previously, the Alberta government fined the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo $150,000 for releasing chlorine gas in violation of Section 109(2) of the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act.
Also, the Town of Bow Island in Alberta was fined $10,000 for violations under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act.