Why did this Ontario worker receive critical injuries?

An Ontario worker received critical injuries after a kettle with black asphalt sealant was spilled. The employer was fined $70,000. The injured worker was employed by R&N Maintenance, an Ontario based road maintenance company. The worker was part of the crew performing road maintenance work in Toronto, Ontario.

Key facts

Workers had to ride in the back of a truck for shorter distances as per the employer’s instruction

The employer instructed the workers to ride in the back of a truck to travel shorter distances between sites. The truck carrying the workers also contained a functioning kettle. This had molten asphalt sealant at a temperature of around 165° C (around 329° F).

The truck stopped abruptly, leading to spillover of molten material on a worker

On Sep 26, 2016, the day of the incident, the truck stopped abruptly. Consequently, the molten material in the kettle spilled over onto one worker, which caused serious injuries to that worker.

What did the MOL investigation reveal?

R&N Maintenance had to report the critical injuries to the Ministry of Labour (MOL). The MOL investigation determined that the company failed as an employer to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker. This violated the provisions of Section 25(2)(h) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (Source – MOL Court Bulletin).

The investigation showed that R&N Maintenance failed as an employer to ensure that transport of material or things or storage of material or things happens in such a way and with such precautions and safeguards as will ensure that the transportation or storing of the material or things does not endanger the safety of a worker.

Can online systems help in creating an effective hazard reporting system, which includes tracking

Online health and safety management systems such as 4SafeCom™ Safety Training and Management System are an effective way for reporting and tracking hazards. Following are some of the benefits of having an online system:

You can integrate your job safety analysis (JSA) with an online system

You can integrate your job safety analysis with an online system such as 4SafeCom™ Safety Training and Management System. Using 4SafeCom™, you can assign the trainings to your workers based on the hazards identified in the job safety analysis. The system also helps you track the progress and expiry of those trainings.

Creation, communication, and acknowledgement of policies and procedures

An online system such as 4SafeCom™ acts as a common live OHS information sharing platform for the organization. R&N Maintenance could have created and shared its policies on safe handling and transportation of chemicals and other hazardous material, while gaining the acknowledgement of its workers. This could have helped the company largely in mitigating a crisis such as the material spill, which caused critical injuries to a worker. An online system such as 4SafeCom™ R&N Maintenance’s workers with a common platform to report a hazard such as molten material in a kettle. This would have helped largely in mitigating such a hazard by providing the opportunity to act on time.

Conducting & tracking inspection and hazard reports while tracking follow-up actions required, including those taken

An online system such as 4SafeCom™ will make it easier to conduct workplace inspections. It also helps track workplace inspection and hazard reports much more efficiently. 4SafeCom™ would have also helped in tracking the follow-up actions required based on a hazard report, which one of the major advantages of having an online system. Therefore, using an online system such as 4SafeCom™ would have helped R&N Maintenance in not only reporting hazards, but also in tracking the actions taken in terms of managing those hazards.

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