Maintenance worker paralyzed after accident at Ontario plant
Kitchener, ON -- Gerdau Ameristeel Corp., a Whitby, Ont.-based company that operates a steel recycling plant in Cam...
Kitchener, ON — Gerdau Ameristeel Corp., a Whitby, Ont.-based company that operates a steel recycling plant in Cambridge, Ont., has been fined $170,000 for a violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act that resulted in serious spinal injuries to a worker.
On May 20, 2005, a millwright was walking on platforms between stacking machines (equipment used to stack and bundle finished steel for shipping) when the millwright fell more than 4.5 m (15 ft) through an opening at the side of the platforms. Part of the millwright’s spinal cord was severed in the incident, resulting in paralysis to the lower body.
The millwright was employed by a company subcontracted by Gerdau to perform routine maintenance. The incident occurred at Gerdau’s plant at 160 Orion Place in Cambridge.
An Ontario Ministry of Labour investigation found at the time of the incident the millwright was not wearing a safety belt or harness to prevent a fall. Following the incident, Gerdau took immediate steps to install temporary flooring in the stacking machine area to eliminate openings while the maintenance work was being performed.
Gerdau Ameristeel Corp. pleaded guilty, as an employer, to failing to ensure the millwright wore fall arrest equipment to prevent a fall of more than three metres, as required by Section 85 of the Regulations for Industrial Establishments. This was contrary to Section 25(1)(c) of the act.
The fine was imposed by Justice of the Peace Robert Gay of the Ontario Court of Justice in Kitchener.
In addition, the court imposed a 25% 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.