(ST CATHARINES, ON) – TSP Canada Towers Inc, a manufacturer of wind towers in Thorold, has pleaded guilty and has been fined $80,000 after a worker was crushed by components being moved along a line.
On June 1, 2013, the worker was performing polishing work on a 58-tonne cylindrical steel tower section with a hand grinder at the company’s plant at 100 Hayes Road in Thorold. The worker was standing on tracks between two tower segments that were resting on adjustable welding rotators.
The rotators are designed to rotate the tower sections and move the sections forward or backward to facilitate the welding of one segment to another. This model of rotator is electrically powered and operated using a portable control box. At the time of the incident, the control boxes for the rotators were not locked out.
The worker was finishing polishing work on a tower segment and was collecting tools from the work area when one of the tower segments began to move. Because the segments move silently along the tracks, the worker was unaware that the tower segment was moving until it was within 10 centimetres, and the worker was unable to escape.
The worker called out for someone to stop the segment’s movement with a remote control. A trainer was able to shut down the moving tower segment using the main control box but, by that time, the worker had been crushed between two tower segments.
The defendant pleaded guilty to failing as an employer to ensure that the measures and procedures prescribed by Ontario Regulation 851 were carried out at the workplace – specifically that “where the starting of a machine, transmission machinery, device or thing may endanger the safety of a worker, control switches or other control mechanisms shall be locked out and other effective precautions necessary to prevent any starting shall be taken.”
TSP Canada Towers Inc was fined $80,000 by Justice of the Peace Mary Shelley in St Catharines court on April 10. 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.
The worker had been employed at the plant for about three weeks prior to the incident. New and young workers in Ontario are three times more likely to be injured during their first month on the job than at any other time.