December 16, 2020
Convicted: Linamar Corporation operating as Linamar Gear, 287 Speedvale Avenue West, Guelph, Ontario.
Location of Workplace: 32 Independence Place, Guelph, Ontario, where automotive parts are manufactured.
Description of Offence: A worker was injured after opening a furnace door. The worker was not wearing protective equipment as required by law.
Date of Offences: October 2, 2018.
Date of Conviction: December 9, 2020.
- Following a guilty plea in provincial offences court in Guelph, Linamar Corporation was fined $200,000 by by Justice of the Peace Walter W. Rojek; Crown Counsel Neil Gobardhan.
- 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.
- On October 2, 2018 a worker was in the process of opening the furnace door to remove parts.
- Upon opening the door, a fireball erupted from the open doorway.
- In proper conditions, when the furnace door is open, the entrance to the furnace is fully blocked and covered by a fire curtain. The purpose of the fire curtain is to block and prevent oxygen from outside the furnace entering inside the furnace. The fire curtain maintains a controlled environment inside the furnace when the door is open.
- The fire curtain is lit by a pilot light which ignites the fire curtain prior to the door being opened.
- However, if the door is opened and the fire curtain is not lit, oxygen from outside is mixed with the controlled environment inside the furnace, which includes endothermic gas. The new gas mixture can be explosive.
- On this day, the fire curtain was not lit when the door was opened. This resulted in a fireball explosion. It is likely that a downdraft of air through the exhaust ventilation of the furnace hood blew out the pilot light.
- The explosion exposed the worker to radiant heat which is the transfer of heat through invisible electromagnetic infrared waves. The heat felt from a wood fireplace or the heat felt from a hot stovetop element are examples of radiant heat.
- The worker’s skin was not protected from the radiant heat by wearing apparel sufficient to protect the worker from injury, nor was the worker wearing a shield, screen or similar barrier.
- The worker suffered burn injuries.
- Section 84 of Ontario Regulation 851/90 states that when a worker is exposed to the hazard of injury from contact of the worker’s skin with radiant heat, the worker must be protected by wearing apparel sufficient to protect the worker from injury or a shield, screen or similar barrier.
- Section 25(2)(c) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act states that the employer must ensure that the regulations are followed at the workplace.
- Accordingly, by failing to ensure the worker wore adequate skin protection from radiant heat, the employer breached section 25(2)(c) of the act.
- Linamar Corporation has two prior convictions: a fatality in October 2005 with a fine of $225,000, and a critical injury in August 2008 with a fine of $100,000.