Manufacturer fined after co-op student injured during welding task
CRS Specialties Inc., a Welland, Ont., manufacturer of rebar bending equipment, was fined $55,000 for a violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act after a student—working there as a co-operative education placement—was injured. A further fine of $4,000 was imposed on a supervisor for a similar violation of the act during the investigation of the incident.
On Mar. 23, 2011, at the company’s Welland workplace, the student was taking apart a fan and washing it in a Varsol bath. When finished, the student was told to start a welding task. When beginning the task, the young worker was wearing a polyester-blend sweatshirt over overalls. Polyester materials are susceptible to ignition and should not be worn while welding. The student was not supplied with a welding jacket, welding sleeves, neck shroud or flame-retardant clothing. The supervisor did not intervene to make sure the student removed the sweatshirt and had sufficient apparel to prevent injury.
While the student was welding, the sweatshirt ignited and caught fire. The student suffered second degree burns.
Later, on Mar. 28, 2011, while the Ministry of Labour was investigating that incident, an inspector saw another worker in the same workplace not wearing apparel sufficient to prevent injury while welding. The worker was wearing a polyester-blend sweatshirt and only one welding sleeve.
CRS Specialties Inc. pleaded guilty to failing to ensure that a competent person was appointed as supervisor.
Supervisor Chad Corriveau pleaded guilty to failing to ensure that a worker was wearing apparel sufficient to protect the worker from injury while welding.
The fines were imposed by Justice of the Peace B. Phillips. In addition to the fine, the court 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.