Ontario company, supervisor fined for two incidents of worker injury

One worker suffered a permanent injury while processing material in a machine

Ontario company, supervisor fined for two incidents of worker injury
The workplace had previously been fined in 2018.

AGF Rebar Inc. – a company that designs, fabricates and installs concrete reinforcing steel (rebar) and wire mesh for construction projects – was fined a total of $95,000 while its supervisor was fined $2,000 for separate incidents that led to worker injuries.

Both the company and the supervisor pleaded guilty in provincial offences court in London by Justice of the Peace Kristine M. Diaz; Crown Counsel Line Forestier. The court 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 first incident happened on Dec. 7, 2018, when a worker was using an overhead crane to load bundles of rebar onto a flatbed trailer. The worker performed the task while standing on the floor, operating a pendant device to control the crane.

The flatbed trailer was parked inside the company's facility alongside another trailer. About 22 inches separated these trailers. The bundles of steel rebar being loaded varied in size. Some bundles included long rebar that exceeded the length of the trailer's 26-foot flatbed portion. As a result, a portion of these bundles rested, at an incline, on the gooseneck of the trailer.

The worker was operating the remote device to place a fourth bundle of bent steel rebar on the trailer and was standing between the trailers near the gooseneck section. While moving this bundle into place, two bundles fell off the trailer towards the worker.

The bundles that fell consisted of rebars which varied in length between about nine to 30 feet. The total weight of the two bundles was 950 pounds.

The worker attempted to jump out of the way but was unable to be completely clear of the falling load and was struck on the hands by the longer rebar pieces. The worker was taken to the hospital.

The company was found to have violated section 45(b) of the Regulation for Industrial Establishments (Regulation 851/90) by failing to ensure the material was placed or stored so that the material would not tip, collapse or fall, and violated section 25(1)(c) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA). The company was fined $30,000 by the court.

The second incident happened on Jan. 11, 2019, when a worker was assigned by supervisor Todd McLean to work with two colleagues and process rebar into a specific shape.

A machine called a rotary bender was regularly used to bend straight pieces of rebar at various angles. Because of the length of the rebar, it is manually fed between rollers. Though multiple workers are needed to handle the rebar, this machine is operated by a single worker with the use of foot-activated controls.

The machine was equipped with a leveling pad about six inches long on which material would rest immediately before being fed or drawn between the rollers. The original leveling pad had been worn down, so a 13-inch scrap piece of metal that rested on the worn pad was being regularly used with this machine. This scrap piece of metal was not secured in place.

At the time of the incident, the worker was feeding a rebar into the machine by hand and was adjusting a levelling plate located in front of the rollers on the bender table because it had started to shift. This plate was not fastened to the table and was moving.

The worker was pulled by the rebar into a pinch point. This area was not equipped with a guard and the worker suffered critical injuries.

In the summer of 2018, Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development inspectors visited this workplace twice and issued a total of 18 orders requiring equipment to be equipped with guarding or requiring the existing guarding to be properly maintained. The orders issued related to equipment including bending machines located inside the building. The ministry did not issue orders for, and did not specifically inspect, the equipment located in the yard.

The company complied with all orders for the machines located inside its establishment but did not provide or install guards for the bender machine being used in the yard.

It was found that the company and its supervisor failed to comply with section 24 of Regulation 851/90 by ensuring the machine was equipped with a guard or a device to prevent access to an exposed moving part that could endanger a worker and thereby did violate, respectively, sections 25(1)(c) and 27(1)(a) of the OHSA.

As a result, the company was fined $65,000 and the supervisor was fined $2,000.

Previously, 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. Also, Portage la Prairie-based Cobalt Industries Ltd. was fined $52,000 and an additional $8,000 to be used for educating the public on occupational safety and health resulting from critical injuries to one of its workers.