Buildsafe Construction Safety Services Inc.

BuildSafe Now Offers Online Safety Training

October 7, 2019


Hot off the Press.....  BuildSafe now offering on-line construction training





Arc Flash

Asbestos Awareness

Confined Space

Electrical Safety

Lock Out Tag Out



And Many More......


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Construction Death Stats


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WHMIS More Than Just SDS and Labels

WHMIS has changed a bit, nothing big in my opinion, it is and will always be an information system on hazardous materials, including bio and physical agents. That was always the intent of WHMIS 1988 and with the advent of GHS 2015, WHMIS hasn't changed. Updated symbols, some new hazard classifications to try and streamline WHMIS, dropping M from MSDS, going to the 16 ANSI data sheet rather than our Canadian 9 part data sheet; but again all to the same end. How will the material hurt you and how to protect yourself.

So employers, you have to train your people on the new WHMIS, what exactly does that mean? Unfortunately in most cases we are missing the word 'review'. To review someones WHMIS in 2019 definitely includes an explanation of the new updated system, but it should not forget about reminding workers of the core information on a SDS in order for workers to properly interpret the hazard to protect themselves.

What I mean is a review on the basic scientific principals which as 'vapour density', 'specific gravity', 'upper and lower explosive levels', the term 'LD-50' is a critical reminder to workers, because if the LD-50 number is just right, we can have potentially poisonous deadly consequences for workers. Even though they were refreshed on WHMIS 2015, but will fail to see the reality of the hazards of being poisoned, burned, creating a lack of breathable oxygen or possibly accidentally mixing two synergistic products together and create a poison gas cloud or even a bomb. All accidentally because we only reviewed the WHMIS GHS changes not the core information that will save our lives.

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Carbon Monoxide Detectors High or Low?

In a single word ‘Both’.

To understand where to put your CO detectors at home or where to take readings in construction, a little science will help. Carbon Monoxide (CO) weighs slightly lighter than air with a vapour density of .97 compared to air's density of 1.

But here’s the catch, that weight is calculated at 1 ATM (Atmosphere) or neutral atmospheric pressure (neither high or low pressure, right in the middle of normal), which is 101.3Kpa in metric or 29.92 inches for imperial. A brief explanation of atmospheric pressure.... If you take a square inch column of atmosphere/air from sea level up to approx 50 miles in the sky, that column of air weighs an average of 14.7 lbs. On high pressure days it weighs more than 14.7lbs and on low pressure days it weighs less. 

Therefore on days where the atmospheric pressure is at 101.3Kpa (14.7lbs) or lower, carbon monoxide will be allowed to naturally rise as it is naturally 3% lighter than air, therefore a detector on or close to the ceiling is most ideal for low pressure days. However you can’t forget the flip side, when we have a high pressure system above 101.3Kpa, the extra pressure from the atmosphere can and will usually force the carbon monoxide down, because it is only 3% lighter than air. Depending on how high of a pressure system you are under, the carbon monoxide can either; be held in place resembling a buoyant gas neither rising or sinking or it can be pushed down to floor level and other lower levels like basements, pits & excavations.

Therefore it is suggested;  have a combo CO/smoke detector on the ceiling directly outside your bedrooms and also have a plug-in CO detector as low as possible near the floor in the same area. You are covered either way.

Do not install detectors in the basement due to false readings given off by gas furnaces.

Atmospheric pressure can change vapor density expectations on gasses with a density range between .95 - 1.05 (Air = 1)

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Heated Construction Washrooms

The Construction regulations state that construction washrooms shall be heated 'if that is possible'.


The term 'if that is possible' leaves some contractors to believe it is optional, but not so fast... The MOL will take into consideration if you have a heated site trailer or availability of electricity in order to determine if heat is possible.


Washroom trailers are really the way to go to have happier workers who will likely produce better work. As a worker, if I have to sit in a freezing cold plastic box I will drive to the nearest public washroom at my employers expense. Cold in the kidneys is no fun health matter for any worker to deal with.


The MOL has indicated they use the OASIS Ontario guideline of 10 degrees Celsius as considered at minimum an adequate amount heat.



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New Set Safety Fines

Hot off the press,


A substancial increase in the amount of set fines an inspector can issue on site. Set fines are a relatively new thing in the past 10 years or so. Up to now there were 16 set fines from 2 schedules. Now that has increased to 179 set fines from 4 schedules.


I have condensed everything that has reference or impact to typical construction and for your reference, I will include the link to the Ontario Justice website where the schedules are listed. Schedules; 66.2, 67, 67.1 and 67.5


MOL Set fines for Construction.pdf


Link to Schedules of fines

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Metron Project Manager's 3 1/2 Year Conviction Upheld



On January 30, 2018, the appeals court upheld Metron Construction's project manager Vadim Kazenelson's original 3 1/2 year jail conviction from 2015.


The appeals court agreed with the original judge, that the project manager, had become aware that proper safety protocol was not taking place with regards to the number of lifelines compared to the number of workers on the swing stage. The project manager, being the highest ranking official from metron construction would be reasonably expected to follow through the consequences of not enough lifelines in case the swing stage did collapse, and take corrective action. But instead the project manager decided to take the risk and carry on without enough lifelines that are required by safety regulations. And to compound the matter after the accident Mr Vadim Kazenelson asked one of the workers to lie and say he wasn't on the swing stage when it broke.














Click here To read the Metron Story


Metron Conviction Summary from 2013


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No 2017 Electrical Deaths in Construction



The number 2 killer in construction, didn't kill a Ontario construction worker in 2017.


Crushed or Struck By, Falls, reversing dump truck, and trench cave in's round off the reasons for dead construction workers in Ontario for 2017.


How death by electrocution missed the Ontario construction industry is an anomaly that probably will not be able to be answered, just one of those lucky years.

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Worker Fined $13,000 and his supervisor fined $15,000

Workers and supervisors beware!!

In a recent court case from November 2017, a worker was fined $13,000 and the workers supervisor was fined $15,000 stemming from an accident that resulted in a dead construction worker.


The worker was a crane operator, he sent a text to the supervisor that the crane was a danger. The supervisior sent back a text saying if it is a danger it should be shut down. 12 days later, the crane tipped over and crushed and killed another worker.


The crane operator was fined $13,000 for not doing anything about the situation, the supervisor was also fined $15,000.


This case goes directly to the point that we are all responsible. When you see a dangerous condition, are you able to cleanly answer to youself, 'what did you do about the dangerous condition that you just identified?'

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Searchable PDF Copy of Construction Regulations

I have attached 2 links for the ONTARIO CONSTRUCTION HEALTH AND SAFETY REGULATIONS AND THE OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY ACT. Using these links will ensure you have the most up to date official version of the Act or Regulations.


To make yourself a current searchable version of the OHSA and construction regulations 213/91, I would Suggest to open either document through the link(s) below, when into the Ontario government e-laws website, near the top left of the page there should be a print option, suggested to print as a PDF and save to your hard drive/phone/ tablet.


To search the PDF document for your safety question or issue, in acrobat reader, under edit, choose 'find' or the magnifying glass for mobile apps, then type the keyword that best describes what you are looking for in the text box, for example; guardrails, scaffolds, excavations, and hit enter or search, continue to hit next until you find the section you are looking for.






A quick 1-2 on The Act (OHSA) VS Construction Regulations (213/91)


Remember you are looking in the Act for items that are common for all employers regardless of type of workplace. Example, - H&S representatives, - MOL entry rights, - Violence and Harassment, - penalties, - toxic substances, - workers right to refuse, - reprisals prohibited, - notifications of injury to the MOL. As you see all of these items apply equally to all workplaces and they are all from the Act.


You should be looking in the regulations when it is a workplace specific issue. again our case, specific to construction. For example, - Scissor lifts, - ladders, - harnesses, - excavations, - PPE, - guardrails, - housekeeping, - scaffolds, - propane use. As you can see the construction regulations deal with construction specific safety issues.


The Act is the Law and the reg's are the sector specific rules.


Hopefully this helps you navigate the OHSA and construction regs a bit better  -  Lou

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OHS Fines Increase Substantially

December 14, 2017


The Ontario Government just made a move to raise the stakes in Ontario Health and Safety by raising fines.

  • Employer fines are raised from $500,000 per offence to $1,500,000 per offence.
  • Fines for individuals were raised from $25,000 to $100,000 per offence.

This should send a message that the province wants to eliminate workplace fatalities in Ontario.


Other changes in the OHSA include,

  • Notification if a committee or a health and safety representative, if any, has identified potential structural inadequacies of a building, structure, or any part thereof, or any other part of a workplace, whether temporary or permanent, as a source of danger or hazard to workers.
  • Language change and new section (53.1) for the reporting party of a reportable incident.
  • The time frame to which the MOL must lay charges within has been modified to ‘1 year from when the MOL becomes aware of a contravention’, not when the incident took place.


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Certified Trades In Ontario Construction

To the best of my knowledge this is a list of Mandatory Certified construction trades in Ontario.


Ontario College of Trades Mandatory Certified Construction Trades


  • Electrician Construction & Maintaince
  • Electrician Rural
  • Hoisting Engineer 1
  • Hoisting Engineer 2
  • Hoisting Engineer 3
  • Plumber
  • Refrigeration and Air conditioning Mechanic
  • Residential (Low Rise) Sheet Metal
  • Residential Air Conditioning
  • Sheet Metal Worker (ICI)
  • Steamfitter



TSSA Mandatory Certified Trades in Construction


  • Gas Fitter
  • Elevator Mechanic
  • Boiler Maker
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4 Hour Working at Heights Classes

I hear 4 and 5 hour working at heights classes are sneaking back in the training system.


You have been doing this for years, you know it all, right? I know its boring, or, these people weren't meant to be in a class room for a full day. Some of the comments I have heard by some trainers who cave to workers pressuring them to speed up the class and get them out early.


In reality many workers have never been properly trained about; guardrails, floor covers, travel restraint, what is a fall restriction system, how to properly wear and adjust a harness, how high does the tie off anchor have to be to make sure I don't hit the ground or floor below? These are all good questions and ones that need to be covered in working at heights training in order to be successful and reduce the number of construction deaths.


Case in point, I had an experience several years ago on a high rise project, where I saw most of the experienced workers not wearing their harness properly. After some encouragement, I finally convinced the site supervisor to shut down the job for 1/2  hour and allow me to perform a safety talk for all workers on site, regarding how to don a harness. With approx 60 workers in attendance, some new and a couple of workers who had been working in construction for over 50 years. The first consensus among most workers was, what is this guy going to tell me that I don't already know? Well to my surprise after the safety talk, two of the 50 year workers approached me, shook my hand and thanked me for the instructions, they said, "in 50 years in construction, nobody ever showed them how to properly don a harness."


I think If the trainer makes the session dynamic and steers away from boring, workers can handle sitting for a whole day on a relevant topic that will help prevent injury or possibly kill them..

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AWP's Workers Now Must Be "Prevented from Ejection"

November 2015's

New Construction Regulations Section 148(1)d now requires all workers to be prevented from ejection while in an Aerial Work Platform (AWP).


In the past, typically the worker would be provided with a 6' lanyard to attach to the designated tie off point, usually somewhere near the floor of the AWP. The 6' lanyard would allow the worker a bit of movement in the lift. However if the worker was thrown out of the lift, a 6' lanyard is long enough to allow ejection from the AWP.


Therefore the construction industry must adopt a new method(s) of tying off while in a AWP's.


I think one easy quick solution to the issue is Self Retracting Lanyard's (SRL's).


SRL's come in a variety of sizes and configurations and are built to lock up when a sudden motion is detected such as falling. SRL's will almost always lock up within a maximum of 600 mm of lead out, and usually less. As a worker is about to go over the rails of an AWP, the unit will normally lock up before the worker is over the rails, that is provided the worker is not standing on the rails!


Always tie off to the designated tie off point within your AWP, if you cannot find it, consult the manual. FYI Operators manauls must be provided under the construction regulations. Some lifts designated for use inside industrial plants may not have tie off points. If you are on a construction site, let the rental company know, so they send you the right lift with proper anchor points.

Contractors must research new methods and write new procedures to match the new regulations.

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WAH MOL Deadline Extended, But...

Under pressure from worker and employer representatives, the MOL's Chief Prevention Officer has extended its Working at Heights Deadline to October 1, 2017.


But dont cancel your training yet, this extension only applies to workers who;

  1. Have proof of taken working at heights or equivilant prior to April 1, 2015
  2. Are booked for a class; and
  3. Has proof of registration.


If the worker does not have a record of training for fall protection prior to April 2015, the worker still must have met the April 1, 2017 deadline.


 The proof of registration must be available to a MOL inspector upon request and must include the following information;

  • The name of the worker
  • The name of the approved training provider
  • The date on which the approved training is scheduled to be completed
  • The name of the approved training program

Hopefully this helps clarify the Miinistry of Labour Working at Heights Extension


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All Fall Protection Training Prior to April 2015 Expires

To clarify the April 1, 2017 Ministry of Labour (MOL) deadline for Working at Heights training for construction workers.


As of April 1 2015 all Working at Heights Training providers in Ontario must obtain MOL Approval in order to train Working at Heights.


Prior to April of 2015 there were no* MOL approved working at heights training providers, therefore any training cards dated prior to April 1, 2015 are no longer valid. (* with the small exception of the 5 training providers who were approved in March 2015)


Employers were given 2 years to obtain new MOL approved training and that deadline is April , 2017.


If you or your workers were trained in 2015 go to the MOL list of approved trainers and if your training provider was registered prior to the date on your card, you have taken approved training. Now you just have to update it every three years.


BuildSafe was approved by the Ministry of Labour to train Working at Heights on July 17, 2015. Therefore under MOL regulations any cards issued in March of 2015 or prior, all expire on March 31, 2017, regardless of any expiry date that is on the card.


Hopefully this clarifys the MOL Working at Heights deadline of April 1, 2017

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Step Stools

As many; Framers, Drywaller's, Tapers and Painters know 2 & 3 rung step stools have been a point of contention by MOL inspectors for many years.


In 2015, the ladder regulations were revamped and in November a new definition of a 'step stool' has appeared for the first time.


“step stool” means a self supporting, portable, fixed or foldable ladder, not adjustable in length, and having,

(a) a height of 800 millimetres or less, excluding side rails, if any, above the top cap,

(b) flat steps, but no pail shelf, and

(c) a ladder top cap that can be stood or stepped on;


In my opinion this new definition should clear up any confusion about use of 2 & 3 step stools that are under 800mm and where the manufacturer allows standing on the top.


Remember section 93(3) if you are following the manufacturer's instructions on any piece of equipment, there is no reason you should have to worry about MOL charges. Should charges happen anyway, you may have a valid defence, provided you were working in adherence with the manufacturer's instructions.


As seen in Werner Ladder manufactures picture (borrowed from thei Website), it would appear to me that they do allow to stand on the top of  their 'work stand'. Also they list the maximum step height on the 2 step as 1'11".


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Read The Words Carefully

What I am referring to is construction regulation 26.1(2)


(2) Despite subsection (1), if it is not practicable to install a guardrail system as that subsection requires, a worker shall be adequately protected by the highest ranked method that is practicable from the following ranking of fall protection methods:



Practicable is the word that allot of people are a mis-interpreting for practical.


Practical means; sensible, useful, easiest for the situation,


Practicable simply means 'that is possible'


Therefore in the regulations we cannot simply choose the easiest or most practical method on the list, we must choose the highest ranked method that is possible regardless of difficulty, if guardrails can be installed, they must be installed.

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When Do My Workers Need The New WHMIS Training?

There is allot of fear mongering going on out there from trainers trying to scare you into hiring them, just stay calm!


No it is not past due to train your workers in WHMIS (2015). Ontario legislation was only updated effective July 1, 2016.


Trainers should, now and over the next two year transition period, be showing workers the old & new symbols, talking about the 2 new classifications as well as the old classifications, showing the 16 part (material) safety data sheets (SDS's)


In approx. 2 years (Mid 2018) all products entering the workplace should now be in compliance with the new changes, so we would them be tapering down showing the old WHMIS symbols and MSDS in WHMIS training.


In a nut shell thats what you need to know regarding changes in WHMIS Training.

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How will the GHS change WHMIS?

Looking from the big picture viewpoint, GHS does not change the basic concept of WHMIS.


DON'T BE FOOLED by those who sound like a Philadelphia Lawyer explaining the GHS changes in language too complicated for the average worker to understand.


Some of the finer details will change like symbols and main classifications, but on a high level, WHMIS is and has been always about;


1-How the materials will harm workers,

2-How to protect yourself,

3-What to do in case of an emergency; and

4-Where to get more information.


As you can see anyone who is familiar with WHMIS will quickly understand the basic concept remains the same. Some (not all) of the basic changes are as follows;


- Hazard Symbols are now in a red diamond shape to draw attention better and a few symbols have been updated; and

- We now have 2 basic hazard classifications;

  1. Physical Hazards, or something that harms you mainly from the outside, (example getting burned by fuels); and
  2. Health Hazards, or something that mainly harms you from the inside, example (inhalation of toxic gasses)

To stay consistent with the rest of the world, we finally went to the 16 part format safety data sheet (SDS). (the word material was dropped from MSDS) Canada has adopted 12 parts as mandatory as other sections are covered under different Canadian laws.


So at the end of the day WHMIS 2015 or WHMIS 1988 is an Information System about hazardous materials found in workplaces.


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Some people are still stuck in the good ole days. What I mean by that is, once upon a time a person's word was a person's intregrity and if you asked for verification, it meant you didn't believe the person, and if you didn't believe the person, you are calling the person a liar. That old school mentality has to change and can take up to another generation or two, to come around to what is really needed for a due diligence defence to be effective.


Example, I recently had a situation with an individual, where I had to verify certain equipment was in place as per the regulations. Prior to the scheduled meeting, I believed I was going to find everything was in place, but as the safety coordinator, I am required by law to exercise my 'due diligence' by verifying and documenting that the equipment was in fact in place and in compliance. The individual I was dealing with, as professional as they appeared, turned out to have an old school mentality and had a really big chip on their shoulder for being made to display the equipment for verification, and they actually said, "I should have taken their word that they had all the equipment".


This clearly showed me that the individual I was dealing with did not have a real understanding of 'proof of due diligence.' The documentation I was writing up with details of their equipment, was my proof of "due diligence" or that I took 'reasonable care'  by verifying and documenting that the equipment was in compliance, and I can't just make that up out of thin air, or by taking a person's word like the good ole day's.....

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WAH One Year In

I am sure everyone can say that was an experience! One year in since mandatory MOL approvals for Working at Heights. Who thought there would only be 75 private training providers and 16 in house providers. Recent released MOL numbers indicate 106,000 workers had been trained in the approved Working at Heights training program since April 1 2015. So now the question becomes; how long before we reap the rewards with lower construction deaths?


Although the training is now better than it was prior to April 1 2015, the main key to reducing construction deaths is a shift is attitude and culture.


Unfortunately one reason I don't believe that everyone has bought in to the working at heights philosophy because that don't believe they will ever die on a construction site! Until everyone knows a dead construction worker, things will not improve, and that is sad.


A second reason that will make it tough to reduce number's that I am hearing of 4 hour courses sneaking back in again, reverting back to the old days. You cannot cover the 57 learning objectives in 4 hours and it is strictly against MOL rules. And some of these 4 hour classes are coming from people who have been approved to train Working at Heights by the safety associations. Who is monitoring the 3rd party trainers? The agency who gave approval is supposed to be monitoring, but I haven't heard of any audits yet, have you?

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Project Manager Sentenced to 3 1/2 years in Jail

Many of you are aware of the accident that occurred on Christmas eve 2009 where 4 workers fell to their death and a 5th worker shattered his spine and broke his legs along with other injuries. Another piece of the puzzle came together on Jan 11, 2016 when the project manager was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in Jail for his inaction. This sentence should sent a message to the construction industry that management does have OHS liability.


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Metron Conviction Summary

Metron Construction was cited for criminal negligence causing the worker’s deaths and originally fined $200,000 plus a 25% victim surcharge, which was based on the fact that the fine was over three times the company’s most recent profitable year. Upon filing an appeal by the crown attorney, the appeals court found that the original fine was insufficient, and the company’s fine was increased to $750,000 plus a 25% victim surcharge.


The owner of the construction business Joel Swartz was personally fined for four (4) violations under the OHSA and Construction Regulations, and issued a $90,000 fine plus a 25% victim surcharge.


The scaffolding company Swing n Scaff was fined $350,000 plus a 25% victim surcharge.


The director of the swing stage company, Patrick Deschamps was fined $50,000 plus a 25% victim surcharge.


Total Fines $1,240,000 plus 25% victim surcharge Totalling $1.55 Million


The project manager, who was on site at the time and played a direct part in the accident, was also charged.  The project manager was convicted of 4 counts of criminal negligence causing death and 1 count of criminal negligence causing bodily harm, and was sentenced to 3½ years in Jail.


Both surviving workers and the family of one of the deceased workers currently have a multi million dollar lawsuit against all involved including the Ministry of Labour for incompetent inspections.

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Metron Details

This accident involves a tragedy that happened at an apartment building balcony restoration project on Kipling Ave in Toronto.

Metron construction who had been in business for 23 years was removing and replacing old balconies that had deteriorated. To access the balcony face the contractor was using a hanging swing stage system that had been rented from a company in Ottawa.


On December 24, 2009, six (6) employees (five (5) workers and a site supervisor) were on the swing stage that the contractor intended to be typically used by only two (2) people even though a typical swing stage of this size should be able to take much more than 2 people. All workers were wearing a harness; only two (2) lifelines were available. One of the workers was properly attached.  A second worker was attached, but not correctly. After handing tools and materials to workers on the swing stage, the project manager (a seventh person) asked the site supervisor ‘about more lifelines’, the supervisor told him ‘not to worry about it’. While the project manager was accessing the swing stage from a balcony, the platform broke in two. The project manager was still hanging onto the balcony and managed to pull himself to safety. When the platform split, five of the six workers fell 13 stories to the ground below. Four were killed instantly and the fifth, who was not tied off correctly, survived although he sustained catastrophic injuries involving broken legs and a shattered spine. The one uninjured worker, who was tied off properly, was pulled to safety by the project manager after the swing stage collapsed.


The swing stage was not properly marked with the maximum capacity load allowance, serial numbers, identifiers or labels (as required by health and safety legislation and industry practice). The stages also arrived without any instructions, user manuals or other product information, such as design drawings prepared by an engineer as required by OHSA s. 139(5).


The resulting forensic examination of the swing stage platform determined that a significant cause of the collapse was defective design and welding by the manufacturer. If properly designed and constructed, a swing stage of this size should have been able to hold 1,800 kilograms which was more than the load weight at the time of the collapse. At the time of the accident the swing stage had been in use for over two (2) months.


The Ministry of Labour had issued stop work orders against the contractor at this site at least two times in the months leading up to the accident. The first stop work order was issued in October for the following reasons: 1) the production of drawings for the roof anchors and the last annual inspection report were not available onsite; 2) failure to provide proper access to the swing stage; 3) failure to ensure that the wire mesh was "securely fastened" from the floor to the top of the guardrail on the swing stages; and 4) failure to install additional guardrails. The citation issues were addressed, and the stop order was lifted the next day.


A second stop order was issued on December 17, one week before the accident.  This stop order involved an unrelated swing stage located at the garage door of the same building. This citation was resolved and the stop-work order was lifted the same day. Between October 20 and December 17 the Ministry of Labour had conducted 9 field visits to this site.


Additionally, a toxicological analysis determined that at the time of the accident, three of the four deceased victims, including the site supervisor, “had marijuana in their system at a level consistent with having recently ingested the drug.”  Evidence also revealed that the constructor stood to get a $50,000 bonus if the job was completed by the end of December.


Shortly after the accident the project manager asked the uninjured worker to lie and say he was not on the swing stage when it collapsed, and to claim that he had received a copy of the company’s health and safety manual prior to the accident, even though the worker could not read the English document. It was noted that the deceased workers ranged from 25 to 40 years old, they from Latvia, Uzbekistan, and Ukraine and that all of the workers had limited English language skills. It was further noted that the employer provided approximately 30 minutes of training on how to operate the swing stage, and failed to ensure that the workers were trained in a language that was understood.

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Kevin Carey
October 6, 2019
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