Steel Tube Injury to Worker Results in $120,000 Fine at Welland Workplace

News from Ontario’s Ministry of Labour

Posted December 18th, 2018 on Niagara At Large

Welland, Ontario – Convicted: Welded Tube of Canada Limited, 111 Rayette Road, Concord, Ontario (registered office), a multi-faceted cold formed carbon steel and high strength low alloy steel tubular producer.

Location: The company’s facility at 191 Ridge Road in Welland, Ontario.

Description of Offence: A worker was injured after a one-ton steel pipe came into contact with a worker. The injury was a result of the injured worker being unable to communicate with another worker due to the poor quality of the two-way radios being used.

Date of Offence: May 5, 2017.

Date of Conviction: December 14, 2018.

Penalty Imposed:

Following a guilty plea,  Welded Tube of Canada was fined $120,000 by Justice of the Peace Carol A. Chernish in provincial offences court in Welland; Crown Counsel Marco Galluzzo.

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.

Background:

  • On the day of the incident, a worker was working as a furnace assistant. One task was to ensure the metal pipes coming out of the furnace moved along two transfer tables to the second part of the finishing process.
  • During the shift, a metal pipe became stuck on one of the transfer tables. Accordingly, the machine was shut down by the furnace operator. Once shut down, the furnace assistant went between the two transfer tables to adjust the sensor on the transfer table.
  • After completing this task, the furnace assistant used a two-way radio and asked the furnace operator if the issue had been resolved.
  • The furnace operator misunderstood the message and as a result re-started the machine while the furnace assistant was still between the two transfer tables. This caused the transfer table to move up and begin the process of transferring the steel pipe onto the second table.
  • Due to the furnace assistant’s position, the steel pipe, weighing approximately one ton, was transferred onto the furnace worker’s body and resulted in a critical injury.
  • Emergency services personel were called to the workplace to remove the steel pipe from the injured worker and transfer the worker to hospital. 
  • The Ministry of Labour’s investigation found that there were issues with the clarity and the quality of the two-way radios being used.
  • It was also discovered that some of the employees did not know how to properly use the radio communication system that was put in place by the defendant.
  • Under section 25(2)(h) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act,  an employer must take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker at a workplace.
  • By failing to have a safe and effective communication system for the protection of its workers, Welded Tube did not comply with its obligation under the act.

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