Peterborough, Ontario -- February 1, 2017 -- Peterborough Iron & Metal has pled guilty and been fined $105,000 after a worker was killed by an excavator operating in reverse. The incident took place in 2015.
The incident took place when a worker was in the yard, adjacent to a narrow roadway, cutting apart the bucket portion of a front-end loader with a cutting torch. This was not the normal area where the worker would have performed this operation; the bucket had been moved to that location by an excavator operated by a co-worker.
After dropping the bucket off, the co-worker then affixed the rear bumper of a city bus to the shear attachment of the excavator and proceeded to operate the excavator in reverse along the roadway, pulling the bumper in order to move it to another location close to where the worker was cutting apart the bucket. While reversing, the right rear track of the excavator struck and crushed the other worker, causing fatal injuries.
This is not the first incident involving this company. More than 15 orders have been issued to Peterborough Iron & Metal since 2013, according to Ministry records. A number of these orders come down to worker safety, including orders to ensure that fire exits and processing areas were free of hazards and obstructions.
A Ministry of Labour inspector conducted an investigation into the cause of the incident and determined that the metal material was being moved in a manner that endangered the safety of a worker. The excavator being used to move the pieces of metal was being operated in reverse and the worker operating the excavator did not have a clear view of the intended path of travel, nor was there a signaler to assist with the task. In addition, the excavator in question did not have a working travel alarm. These were all violations of Section 56 of Ontario Regulation 851.
The Ministry of Labour issued several orders following the incident. The company was instructed to develop and implement measure to protect yard workers from vehicles and was also ordered to provided a written report. In addition, the company was ordered to ensure the excavator is maintained and to issue a stop-work order on using the excavator. The Ministry of Labour also required Peterborough Iron & Metal to provide training and maintenance records.
The court concluded that Peterborough Iron & Metal had failed as an employer to ensure that measures and procedures prescribed by the regulation were carried out at the workplace, contrary to Ontario's Occupational Health and Safety Act.
The employer pleaded guilty and was fined $105,000 by Justice of the Peace Peter Hiscox in Peterborough court. The court also imposed a 25 percent 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.