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Thunder Bay contractor fined in 2021 death of a worker

Worker was struck and killed when elevated arm of a front-end loader released
Court gavel 2 (pexels)

Finn Way General Contractor, a Thunder Bay construction company, was fined $135,000 in a Thunder Bay court stemming from the July 2021 death of one of its workers.

A March 24 Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development news release said the date of conviction was March 2. The company entered a guilty plea in the Ontario Court of Justice in Thunder Bay.

A 25 per cent victim fine surcharge was tacked on, as required by the Province Offences Act, which goes into a special fund to assist victims of crime.

The worker died July 16, 2021 while replacing the left hydraulic lift cylinder of the arm of a front-end loader. The worker was fatally injured 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. 

According to the ministry, most front-end loaders have a prop or support mechanism to block the loader arm from falling while elevated. This model wasn't equipped with this safety mechanism from the manufacturer. Finn Way didn’t have a safety procedure in place on how to support the arm of the loader while elevated.

An investigation revealed only a few days earlier, workers at Finn Way had used an overhead crane and sling to support the machine’s loader arm while removing the cylinder arm to send it away for repairs, without incident. The ministry further said using an overhead crane this way did not comply with the requirements of section 74 of Ontario Regulation 851: Industrial Establishments. 

The investigation also 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 determined 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. 

The release said Finn Way 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.