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McDougall Energy fined $70K for workplace fall that injured trucker

Sault Ste. Marie-based fuel distributor pleaded guilty this month to a single charge of failing to implement measures to protect a worker in connection with 2023 incident
McDougall Energy Inc. was fined $70,000 after pleading guilty to violating the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Sault Ste. Marie-based McDougall Energy Inc. has been fined $70,000 after a worker fell into a vehicle service pit and suffered “several injuries.”

The company pleaded guilty earlier this month to a single charge of failing to implement measures to protect a worker, in violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

On top of the $70,000 fine, McDougall must also pay a 25 per cent victim fine surcharge that goes into a provincial fund for victims of crime.

“McDougall Energy Inc., doing business as Dowler-Karn, failed to ensure measures were implemented to protect a worker from falling into an in-ground vehicle service pit,” says a news release posted online yesterday by the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development.

Headquartered in the Sault, McDougall Energy is a family-owned fuel and lubricant distributor that has local offices across Ontario and team members in western Canada. 

The incident that led to the conviction occurred at a Dowler-Karn service shop in St. Thomas, Ont. 

Court heard that on Feb. 17, 2023, a truck driver was dispatched from Dowler-Karn’s Sarnia branch to deliver fuel, but the vehicle began experiencing mechanical problems due to ice build-up on the brakes.

One of the company’s mobile technicians was sent to meet the driver and temporarily fixed the problem so the truck could make the delivery. Afterwards, the truck was driven to the company’s service shop in St. Thomas for further repairs.

“The service shop has multiple work bays in which vehicles are repaired and maintained, including an in-ground vehicle service pit in work bay three,” the news release states. “The pit is 70 feet long, 42 inches wide and 64 inches deep. At the time of the incident, the pit was not in use and did not have a barricade or technician monitoring it to prevent workers from falling in.”

In order to complete the repair on the trailer, the truck and trailer were separated. The trailer was parked in work bay four, next to the bay with the open pit.

“The driver later came in to check on the progress of the repairs,” the release continues. “At that time, a senior technician was repairing an air leak in the upper safety rails on the top of the trailer and asked other workers to identify which rail was moving.”

The truck driver tried to assist but had to take several steps backwards in order to see of the top of the trailer.

While backing up, the truck driver “accidentally fell four and half feet into the adjacent vehicle service pit. The driver suffered several injuries from the fall.”

You can read the full release from the ministry HERE.

— SooToday