Ontario Construction News staff writer
Finn Way General Contractor Inc. has pleaded guilty and was fined $135,000 in the Ontario Court of Justice after a worker using heavy equipment was killed on the job.
According to a report from the court, the 25-year-old man was replacing the left hydraulic lift cylinder of the arm of a front-end loader in July 2021 when the loader arm dropped after the hydraulic cap placed on the hydraulic lines was removed, releasing the pressurized fluid in the right hydraulic lift cylinder that was holding up the weight of the arm.
As a result, a Ministry of Labour investigation determined “Finn Way General Contractor Inc., failed as an employer, to ensure measures and procedures prescribed by section 74 of Ontario Regulation 851: Industrial Establishments were carried out in the workplace.”
On July 12, 2021, workers at Finn Way General Contractor Inc. removed the left lift cylinder on a front-end loader to send it for repairs. The cylinder was one of the two pressurized hydraulic cylinders used to lift and lower the arm of the loader. To remove the cylinder, the arm of the loader needed to be lifted. While most front-end loaders have a prop or support mechanism that is used to solidly block the loader arm from falling while in an elevated position, this particular model was not equipped with this safety mechanism from the manufacturer.
Finn Way General Contractor Inc. also did not have a procedure in place on how to support the arm of the loader in absence of a prop or support mechanism, the investigation found.
Workers used an overhead crane and sling to support the machine’s loader arm after the arm was lifted using the loader’s power. However, using the overhead crane this way did not comply with the requirements of section 74 of Ontario Regulation 851: Industrial Establishments.
After the left lift cylinder was removed, the hydraulic lines of the cylinder were capped until it could be replaced.
Four days later, on July 16, 2021, two workers were replacing the repaired left lift cylinder on the front-end loader. While one worker stopped work to take a lunch break, the other worker continued to replace the cylinder. The arm of the loader was elevated using the hydraulic fluid pressure in the right lift cylinder – the only mechanism being used to hold up the arm of the loader at the time.
During the process of installing the left lift cylinder, the worker removed the hydraulic cap that was placed on the hydraulic lines, releasing the pressurized fluid that the right lift cylinder was using to hold up the weight of the arm, causing the arm of the loader to suddenly drop on the worker, resulting in fatal injuries to the worker.
A Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development investigation revealed that the operation and maintenance manual for this particular front-end loader provided specific instructions to not depend on the hydraulic cylinders to hold up the equipment, and to use proper support when working underneath the equipment. It was at this time that it was learned that this particular model of front-end loader did not have a prop or support mechanism that could be used to hold up the arm of the loader while it was in the elevated position.
According to the court decision, “the lack of procedure, and inability to use a prop or manufactured support, to hold up the arm of the front-end loader, while repairs and maintenance was being performed, created a hazard for employees.
“Finn Way General Contractor Inc. failed, as an employer, to ensure that the measures and procedures prescribed by section 74 of Ontario Regulation 851: Industrial Establishments were carried out, contrary to section 25(1)(c) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.”