Company fined $112K after workers critically injured by bulldozer

Employer failed to ensure that the equipment operator was assisted by a signaller

Company fined $112K after workers critically injured by bulldozer
The firm was also imposed a 25-per-cent victim fine surcharge.

Aecon Construction Ontario East Limited was fined $90,000 after pleading guilty to violations after one worker suffered critical injuries after contact with a reversing bulldozer.

On June 11, 2018, a worker and an equipment operator were working as a team on a part of Highway 417 in Ottawa. The worker was tasked with taking elevation readings using a GPS laser and marking out the readings on the ground, while the equipment operator was operating a bulldozer.

The worker taking the readings could not receive a signal for the GPS equipment and attempted to locate a signal by walking to different areas of the site. While doing so the worker was facing west, back to the bulldozer.

The bulldozer's operator was in the process of back-blading material, a process where the operator pushes material forward and then runs the blade over the material in reverse. The operator placed the bulldozer in reverse, activating the back-up alarm on the bulldozer, and looked over one shoulder.

The workers proceeded to reverse after not noticing anyone behind. The back-up alarm could not be heard over the noise of Highway 417. As a result, the worker taking readings was knocked to the ground.

The bulldozer operator then noticed two survey workers running toward the bulldozer. The operator stopped the bulldozer, saw a hardhat on the ground, exited the bulldozer and found the worker on the ground.

As a result of the contact, the worker suffered critical injuries.

Investigation by the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development found that the injured worker would not reasonably have been noticed by the equipment operator while the bulldozer was reversing and the ability for the operator to view the worker within the rear-view mirror while reversing the bulldozer would have become progressively more obstructed. In such a scenario, a signaller should have been used to assist the equipment operator.

Section 104, subsection 3 of O. Reg. 213/91 - the Regulation for Construction Projects - states that operators of vehicles, machines and equipment shall be assisted by signallers if the operator's view of the intended path of travel is obstructed and/or a person could be endangered by the vehicle, machine or equipment or by its load.

Also, the Occupational Health and Safety Act states that an employer shall ensure that the measures and procedures prescribed are carried out in the workplace.

Accordingly, Aecon Construction Ontario East Limited, as an employer, failed to ensure that the equipment operator was assisted by a signaller as required by the regulation.

The employer was convicted on Oct. 29, 2020 in provincial offences court in Ottawa by Justice of the Peace Herb Kreling and Crown Counsel Alicia Gordon-Fagan.

The court also imposed a 25-per-cent victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act, to be credited to a special provincial government fund to assist victims of crime.