ST. THOMAS, ONT. — A St. Thomas, Ont. manufacturing firm was convicted and fined for its role in a 2018 incident in which a worker suffered a critical injury after falling off a ladder while trying to access the roof of the workplace.
Maxill Inc., a manufacturer of infection-control products, was fined $50,000 on Nov. 18 in St. Thomas provincial offences court.
A Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development release stated that on Sept. 18 last year, a worker’s assigned task at the Maxill workplace was to inspect the drains on the roof of the building.
To gain access to the roof, the worker had to climb a six-foot aluminum stepladder to reach a vertical fixed-access ladder attached to the side of the building, while carrying a five-gallon pail with tools and other equipment.
While standing on the top cap of the stepladder, the worker reached for the fixed-access ladder above. The ladder tipped over, and the worker fell to a concrete pad below, sustaining a critical injury.
An investigation conducted by the ministry determined that there was no safe means of access to the roof of the facility. In particular, the bottom rung of the fixed-access ladder was seven feet, three inches above the concrete pad, requiring some way of reaching the fixed-access ladder.
The stepladder was determined to not be a safe way to do so, as there was a gap of about 18 inches between the top cap of the stepladder and the bottom rung of the fixed-access ladder.
The manufacturer’s instructions for the stepladder provided that the top cap should not be used as a step. Furthermore, the fixed-access ladder itself was not safe, in that it extended more than 16 feet above the concrete pad and did not have the required safety cage around it.
Section 25(2)(h) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act provides that an employer must take every reasonable precaution for the protection of a worker at the workplace.
The court determined that Maxill failed as an employer to take the reasonable precaution of providing a safe means of access to the roof of the facility, contrary to the act. This is an offence pursuant to section 66(1) of the act.