OSHAWA, ONT. — A contractor that specializes in municipal construction was convicted and fined for its role in an incident that occurred in Oshawa, Ont. in which a worker was crushed and killed by a scoop bucket attachment.
Orin Contractors Corp. based in Concord, Ont. was convicted Sept. 21 following a mishap that occurred June 19, 2018. The Ontario Court of Justice in Oshawa determined that a hydraulic coupler attached to an excavator was operated in a manner that was not in accordance with the bucket attachment procedure in the operating manual.
The Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development reported that in June of 2018 Orin was engaged in a contract with the City of Oshawa for the replacement of sanitary sewer lines. On June 18 the company was working near Verdun Avenue in Oshawa. A worker had begun working for Orin that day.
A supervisor began the work day with a “toolbox talk” and assigned tasks for the day. The new worker was instructed to use the excavator to uncover a pipe that had been laid the week before, and to continue digging the excavation.
The excavator was equipped with a hydraulic coupler which allowed the operator to attach and detach implements to and from the boom of the machine. The scoop bucket attachment being used was capable of being attached with the teeth facing the operator to dig back toward the operator’s cab, or turned around with the teeth facing away from the operator and used as a shovel.
The next day, on June 19, excavation started with the bucket attached to the excavator in the dig position, pulling material back toward the excavator. The operator was instructed by the supervisor to turn the bucket around to the “shovel” position to allow better access to the soil around a natural gas pipe in the trench.
The worker placed the bucket on the ground, detached the bucket from the coupler, and spun the bucket around on the ground, pushing it with the coupler.
The worker attempted to re-attach the bucket but did not follow the procedure for doing so as set out in the coupler manufacturer’s user manual.
Unknown to the operator, the bucket was not properly attached to the coupler.
At that time, the supervisor entered the excavation to do shovelling by hand around the pipe that had been previously installed, in order to attach it to the next length of pipe. As the operator swung the bucket over the trench, the bucket fell into the trench, crushing the supervisor. The bucket weighed over 2,700 pounds and the supervisor died as a result of the injuries.
After the fatal incident, testing was conducted by the ministry and found there were no mechanical defects. Testing further confirmed that all systems were working properly. It is believed the failure of the operator to follow the manufacturer-directed safety checks for coupler attachment was the source of the failure.
During an interview, it was apparent the operator was not familiar with the full safety checking procedure as set out in the coupler manufacturer’s user manual. The manual was in English and the operator spoke a different language.
The company pleaded guilty to failing, as an employer, to ensure that the measures and procedures prescribed in section 93(3) of Ontario Regulation 213/91, the Construction Projects Regulation, were carried out in the workplace, contrary to section 25(1)(c) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
Following a guilty plea, Orin Contractors Corp. was fined $125,000.