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OH&S

Charges laid one year after deadly Ottawa workplace explosion

DCN-JOC News Services
Charges laid one year after deadly Ottawa workplace explosion

OTTAWA — Charges were recently laid against Eastway Tank, Pump and Meter Limited and its owner following an explosion and subsequent fire last year that killed six employees.

The incident occurred at 1995 Merivale Road on Jan. 13, 2022 and was one of the deadliest incidents at an Ottawa workplace in years.

“Our thoughts are with the family and colleagues of the individuals who passed away,” said the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development in a statement emailed to the Daily Commercial News. “As this matter is currently before the court, it would be inappropriate to speculate or comment further.”

The charges were laid on Jan. 5, 2023 under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), for failing as an employer to ensure that the measures and procedures prescribed by section 63(c) of O. Reg 851/90 were carried out in a workplace, contrary to section 25(1)(c) of the act.

According to the charging document, the defendant failed to ensure the process of loading and wet testing the Renway truck, that produced a vapour to such an extent as to be capable of forming an explosive mixture with air, was carried out in an area with no potential sources of ignition.

The defendant also failed to take one or more of the following reasonable precautions in the workplace:

  • ensure diesel fuel to be used for the wet testing of trucks was not contaminated with gasoline or any other flammable liquid or substance;
  • ensure the tank of the Renway truck did not contain and was free of gasoline or any other flammable liquid or substance while work and/or testing capable a source of potential ignition was taking place on or near the truck;
  • ensure the Renway truck and fuel hose (nozzle) were bonded and grounded while the truck was loaded and/or wet tested with fuel;
  • and ensure fuel was not splash loaded or splash filled into the tank of the Renway truck and/or ensure flammable liquid vapours in the tank of the truck were not exposed to a source of potential ignition.

Furthermore, the defendant failed to provide adequate information, instruction and supervision to workers on safe fuel storage and handling procedures to protect the workers from the hazard of diesel fuel, used for the wet testing of trucks, becoming contaminated with gasoline or any other flammable liquid or substance.

Similar charges were also laid on the owner of Eastway Tank, Pump and Meter Limited, Neil Greene, for failing to take all reasonable care to ensure that the corporation complied with section 63(c) of O. Reg 851/90 in a workplace.

Kayla Ferguson, Rick Bastien, Etienne Mabiala, Danny Beale, Russell McLellan and Matt Kearney all died in the blast.

At the time of the incident, Ottawa Police Insp. Frank D’Aoust said the explosion and fire that followed caused the roof of the factory to collapse and completely destroy part of the building.

– With files from The Canadian Press

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