WELLAND, ONT. — Welded Tube of Canada Limited, a Concord, Ont.-based producer of formed steel, was convicted and fined $120,000 in a Welland, Ont. court Dec. 14 for an incident last year in which a worker was injured by a one-tonne steel pipe.
Welded Tube produces cold-formed carbon steel and high-strength low-alloy steel tubes. The incident occurred in May 2017 at the firm’s facility on Ridge Road in Welland.
The Ministry of Labour recounted that on the day of the incident, a worker was working as a furnace assistant. One task was to ensure the metal pipes coming out of the furnace moved along two transfer tables to the second part of the finishing process.
During the shift, a metal pipe became stuck on one of the transfer tables. Accordingly, the machine was shut down by the furnace operator. Once shut down, the furnace assistant went between the two transfer tables to adjust the sensor on the transfer table, said the release.
After completing the task, the furnace assistant used a two-way radio and asked the furnace operator if the issue had been resolved.
The furnace operator misunderstood the message and as a result restarted the machine while the furnace assistant was still between the two transfer tables. This caused the transfer table to move up and begin the process of transferring the steel pipe onto the second table.
Due to the furnace assistant’s position, the steel pipe made contact with the furnace worker’s body and resulted in a critical injury.
Emergency services personnel were called to the workplace to remove the steel pipe from the injured worker and transfer the worker to hospital.
The Ministry of Labour’s investigation found that there were issues with the clarity and the quality of the two-way radios being used. It was also discovered that some of the employees did not know how to properly use the radio communication system that was put in place by the defendant.
Under section 25(2)(h) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, an employer must take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker at a workplace, said the release.
At trial, the justice of the peace determined that by failing to have a safe and effective communication system for the protection of its workers, Welded Tube did not comply with its obligation under the act.