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Fall from third storey leads to conviction for Innisfil constructor

Fall from third storey leads to conviction for Innisfil constructor

KITCHENER, ONT.—An Innisfil, Ont.-based contractor was recently found guilty and fined for its role in a February 2020 incident in which a worker fell 21 feet and was injured at a Waterloo jobsite.

MTN Construction Inc. carries on business as a concrete formwork contractor. A Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development report states when the mishap occurred, CTN King Inc. was undertaking a condominium project and retained MTN Construction Inc. to provide the concrete formwork.

By February 10 of that year, the concrete work at the project had progressed to the third floor of the building, located on King Street in Waterloo. That morning two MTN workers were installing column formwork for the walls on the perimeter of the third floor.

The forms were made to be installed on reinforcing steel rebar already in place. In certain places, the rebar was bent 90 degrees at the top, requiring the formwork to be split into two L-shaped forms in order to fit around the rebar. Workers had installed between 50 and 150 similar columns, some of which were of the same L-shaped type. The forms were lifted into place by a tower crane.

That morning one worker directed the crane operator to lower the first L-shaped form, where it was affixed around the rebar. One side of the form was on the exterior south side of the floor, and the other was on the interior east side. The worker installed one shoring post as scaffolding on an angle to support the interior side of the form. Although it was the normal practice to also brace the exterior side, in this instance no shoring or bracing was installed to support the exterior side. 

The worker tied fall protection equipment on to the first L-shaped formwork once it was in place. The crane then moved the second L-shaped formwork section to the third floor. Moving it into place was more difficult because of the bend in the rebar, and it was requiring some manipulation by the crane operator and by the worker at the floor level.

At some point, the centre of gravity of the first formwork section shifted south, away from the building, and the 550-pound formwork fell over the edge of the building, pulling the worker who was tied to it to the ground. 

As a result of falling approximately 21 feet to the ground, the worker sustained serious injuries.

An investigation conducted by the ministry determined while MTN had a written formwork procedure, workers had not been specifically trained on this written procedure and were not aware there was a specific written procedure, although they were aware that bracing was required. The procedure did not contain any specific procedure for bracing formwork.

In particular, while it was MTN’s usual practice to install a shoring post to brace a form in one direction and a two-by-four piece of lumber to brace the other direction, there was no specific procedure requiring this to be done. 

In addition, the formwork engineering drawings did not include any information on how forms should be braced. 

All workers had working at heights training, but had not been given site-specific training, and had not been trained on where and how to properly tie off their fall protection equipment on this jobsite. MTN had a site tie-off procedure, but none of the workers had been trained on it prior to the incident. Fall protection equipment was made available to workers, but it was left to the workers to decide which type of fall arrest equipment was appropriate for any given circumstance.

Section 25(1)(c) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act states that employers shall ensure that the measures and procedures prescribed by the act and its regulations are complied with. Section 31(1)(b) of the Regulation for Construction Projects prescribes that “every part of a project, including a temporary structure…shall be adequately braced to prevent any movement that may affect its stability or cause its failure or collapse.”

Following a guilty plea in provincial offences court in Kitchener, on April 19 MTN was found guilty of failing to ensure that the measures and procedures prescribed by section 31(1) of the regulation were complied with at the workplace, contrary to section 25(1)(c) of the act. This is an offence pursuant to section 66(1) of the act.

MTN was fined $60,000.

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