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Cambridge steel producer convicted after slag falls on workers

DCN-JOC News Services
Cambridge steel producer convicted after slag falls on workers

WHITBY, ONT. — A Cambridge, Ont.-based steel producer has been convicted and fined for its role in a 2018 worksite incident in Whitby, Ont. in which two workers were injured by a piece of waste material that fell from a furnace.

Gerdau Ameristeel Incorporation was convicted Dec. 17, 2020 in Whitby provincial offences court.

A Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development bulletin reported that on Nov. 12, 2018, a fire occurred in the back of a furnace in the firm’s Whitby plant, where steel recycling, melting and production is undertaken.

The fire was extinguished but a hydraulic hose was damaged and required replacement. Two workers were assigned to perform the repair work.

The workers began the repair and were working directly underneath the outer edge of the furnace roof which had been swung out to expose the burnt hydraulic hose for repair.

As the workers were removing the hydraulic hose, a large piece of waste material known in the industry as “slag” became dislodged and fell about 15 feet, striking both workers. It was estimated that the slag weighed approximately 80 pounds.

Emergency services were contacted and the two workers were transported to Oshawa Lakeridge Hospital. The two workers suffered extensive and critical injuries from the strike.

The ministry investigated and determined that there was no overhead protection provided by Gerdau to shield the workers from the hazards of falling material.

Section 25(1)(c) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act provides that an employer shall ensure that the measures and procedures prescribed are carried out in the workplace. Section 35 of Ontario Regulation 851, the Industrial Establishments Regulation, states that overhead protection shall be provided where falling material may endanger any worker.

It was determined in court that Gerdau failed to ensure that overhead protection was provided to the workers, an offence pursuant to section 66(1) of the act.

Following a guilty plea, Gerdau was fined $115,000.

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