December 29, 2020
Convicted: Gerdau Ameristeel Incorporation, registered office at 160 Orion Place, Cambridge, Ontario.
Location of Workplace: 1 Gerdau Court, Whitby, where the company recycles, melts and produces steel.
Description of Offence: Two workers were injured after being struck with a piece of waste material that fell from a furnace. There was no overhead protection to protect the workers from the hazards of falling material.
Date of Offences: Novenber 12, 2018.
Date of Conviction: December 17, 2020.
- Following a guilty plea in provincial offences court in Whitby, Gerdau was fined $115,000 by Justice of the Peace Karim Premji; Crown Counsel Walter Ojok.
- 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 November 12, 2018, a fire occurred in the back of a furnace in the Whitby plant. The fire was immediately extinguished but a hydraulic hose was damaged and required replacement. Two workers were assigned to perform the repair work.
- The workers began the repair and were working directly underneath the outer edge of the furnace roof/lid which had been swung out to expose the burnt hydraulic hose for repair.
- As the workers were removing the hydraulic hose, a large piece of waste material known in the industry as “slag” became dislodged and fell about 15 feet, striking both workers. It was estimated that the slag weighed approximately 80 pounds.
- Emergency services were contacted and the two workers were transported to Oshawa Lakeridge Hospital. The two workers suffered extensive and critical injuries from the strike.
- The Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development investigated and determined that there was no overhead protection provided by Gerdau to protect the workers from the hazards of falling material.
- Section 25(1)(c) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act provides that an employer shall ensure that the measures and procedures prescribed are carried out in the workplace. Section 35 of the Ontario Regulation 851 (the Industrial Establishments Regulation) states that overhead protection shall be provided where falling material may endanger any worker.
- Gerdau failed to ensure that overhead protection was provided to workers where falling material may endanger any worker. This is an offence pursuant to section 66(1) of the act.