Worker's Fall Results in $60,000 Fine for Thunder Bay Employer
February 19, 2021
Convicted: Robert C. Nearing Holdings Inc., operator of a Canadian Tire outlet at 939 Fort William Road in Thunder Bay, Ontario.
Location of Workplace: 939 Fort William Road in Thunder Bay, Ontario.
Description of Offence: A worker fell from a second-storey level through an opening that should have had a guardrail to protect workers from injury.
Date of Offences: June 11, 2019.
Date of Conviction: February 19, 2021.
Following a guilty plea in provincial offences court in Thunder Bay, Robert C. Holdings Inc. was fined $60,000 by Justice of the Peace J. A. Bernard Caron; Crown Counsel Wes Wilson.
The court also 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.
Robert C. Nearing Holdings Inc. operates a Canadian Tire outlet at 939 Fort William Road (Thunder Centre) in the City of Thunder Bay.
On June 11, 2019 a worker was requested by a co-worker to go to a storage area behind the auto repair bays of the facility to assist in retrieving two boxed barbeques from storage. The co-worker had been directed to retrieve the items by the store manager.
The storage facility was constructed by joining three "sea-cans" - intermodal shipping containers - side by side, then stacking the same size and number of containers on top to create two levels of storage capacity. Access to the top level was afforded by means of a set of stairs leading to a metal walkway running the width of the joined container fronts.
The walkway had a series of upright posts on the side opposite the containers. Across from the entrance to each second-storey container was a removeable chain between posts, which, when removed, allowed access f or a forklift to deliver or remove storage items.
The total width of each gap created by removing a chain was 97 inches If the forks of the forklift were inserted into the gap, an unprotected opening between the forklift's mast structure and the posts on one or both sides would remain, the width of which depended on placement of the forks. The width of the mast was 42 ½ inches.
On the day noted, the two workers were on the second-storey walkway to retrieve the boxed barbeques. The chain opposite the entrance to a storage container was removed, and a forklift, operated by a supervisor, was moved to the gap, with the forks extending into the gap.
The two workers removed a barbeque from the container and loaded it onto the forks. They then removed a second barbeque and were in the process of stacking it onto the first.
One worker stepped off the walkway with one foot through the opening, and fell to the ground.
The unprotected openin g the worker fell through was 46 inches wide. The height of the walkway surface above the ground was 8 feet, 7½ inches.
The inspector from the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development investigating the incident ordered that a guardrail complying with the requirements of section 14 of the Regulation for Industrial Establishments (Regulation 851) be installed on the walkway, and that workers be protected from falls when that guardrail is removed. Those orders were complied with. A compliant guardrail was installed and a procedure was developed for working with the guardrail removed.