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Sudbury fabricator fined for 2018 explosion injuring worker

Steel drum exploded at Noront Steel after worker cut into it

Noront Steel of Sudbury has been fined $70,000 for a 2018 incident in which a worker received critical injuries following an explosion.

In operation since 1945, Noront Steel is a full-service fabrication shop specializing in the manufacture of structural steel, plate work and miscellaneous steel.

The Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development reported that on Aug. 24, 2018, a worker was cutting drainage holes into a steel drum with a torch when the barrel exploded into flames. The worker received critical injuries.

The ministry noted that Noront used 45-gallon steel drums, obtained from other facilities, to store small steel objects.

Typically, the top would be cut off at Noront using an oxy-acetylene torch, and holes would be cut in the bottom of the barrel for drainage purposes, the ministry noted. The barrels would be worked on in the condition they were received; they were not cleaned out first.

Following the incident, investigation by the Centre for Forensic Sciences determined that the barrel contained flammable substances, included acetone, methyl ethyl ketone and toluene.

The drum that exploded had not been cleaned of explosive and flammable material before the worker cut into it. The worker had not been told of the previous contents of the barrel, and the label on the barrel indicated it contained non-combustible substance, the ministry noted.

Noront was found to be in contravention of Section 78(1)(b) of the Industrial Establishments Regulation (Regulation 851) which requires that "...where alternations are to be made on a drum, tank... or other container... [it] shall be drained and cleaned or otherwise rendered free from any explosive, flammable or harmful substance." 

Noront pleaded guilty and was fined $70,000 on Jan. 13, 2020.

The company will also have to pay a 25 per cent victim fine surcharge, as required by the Provincial Offences Act. The surcharge is credited to a special provincial government fund to assist victims of crime.