Ontario Construction News staff writer
Two Oxford County companies have been fined a total of $400,000 after an investigation into a deadly December, 2020 building collapse.
The court in London imposed fines of $260,000 and $140,000, respectively, after guilty pleas by iSpan Systems LP and East Elgin Concrete Forming Ltd. to charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development (MLITSD) says in a statement issued last Friday (Jan. 5).
The statement says a MLITSD investigation revealed deficiencies in iSpan Systems LP’s fabrication and methodological errors in East Elgin’s procedures that contributed to the collapse. The errors were identified in the engineering analysis carried out by MLITSD engineers.
Two workers died and four others were critically injured when a section of a condominium under construction in West London collapsed on Dec. 11, 2020 during fourth-storey concrete pour. CTV London reports that the building was at 555 Teeple Terrace.
The MLSTD statement says that MiSpan Systems LP fabricated the building’s structural steel frame, including the frames necessary to support the concrete forms. East Elgin Concrete Forming Ltd. was responsible for the concrete pour, retaining supervisory duties while subcontracting the roof pour to another company.
A MLITSD investigation “identified deficiencies in iSpan’s fabrication and methodological errors in East Elgin’s procedures that contributed to the collapse,” the statement says.
“East Elgin employed a laser level and directed the subcontractor to pour to the height of the laser level. The laser level on its own failed to account for the deflection of the steel frame that occurred from the weight of the concrete. The use of a dipstick would have remedied this problem by providing a true reading of concrete depth during the deflection process. As a result, workers were left with the incorrect assumption that the concrete depth was insufficient at certain locations in the pour.
“Consequently, more concrete was applied than had been specified by iSpan. An engineering analysis carried out by MLITSD engineers determined that the concrete placed exceeded the design values by considerable amounts,” the statement says.
“The weight of the applied concrete contributed to the collapse and/or its severity. Good engineering practice requires not only that a building possess sufficient capacity to support anticipated loads, but also that it possess a margin of safety for unexpected loads.”
The MLITSD engineering analysis determined that another contributing cause of the collapse was the failure of a roof beam support, referred to as a beam pocket.
“The loads transferred to this beam pocket from the stud packs exceeded its ultimate load carrying capacity resulting in the failure. The analysis revealed that while iSpan’s approved engineering drawings specified a 14-gauge deep track for the stud pack, an iSpan employee changed the deep track to a thinner and shorter 16-gauge shallow track,” MLITSD says.
“Additionally, the welds between the studs were placed lower than had been specified by the fabrication drawings which may again have reduced its capacity. iSpan’s quality control department failed to detect these errors.
“If the wall had been fabricated as designed, it would have possessed a sufficient margin of safety to account for the overpouring of concrete and the collapse could have been avoided. iSpan failed, as an employer, to ensure that a building, structure or any part thereof, or any other part of a workplace, whether temporary or permanent, was capable of supporting any loads that may be applied to it in accordance with good engineering practice, contrary to section 25(1)(e)(iii) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act,” the statement says.
“East Elgin failed, as an employer, to provide proper information, instruction and supervision to a worker to protect the health and safety of a worker, contrary to section 25(2)(a) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act,” MLITSD says in its statement.