Ontario Construction News staff writer
Eric Lemire Enterprises Inc., an Ottawa-based construction company specializing in erecting structural and miscellaneous steel, was fined $55,000 after a worker was injured by unsafely stored building materials.
The incident happened at an industrial and commercial building project at 11920 Sunset Dr. in St. Thomas on Sept. 8, 2021.
According to court documents, a worker was injured by a steel truss that tipped over. On Feb. 8, a decision from the provincial offences court stated that Eric Lemire Enterprises Inc. “failed, as an employer, to ensure material or equipment at a project was stored and moved in a manner that did not endanger a worker.”
The company was fined $55,000 following a guilty plea at the St. Thomas Provincial Offences Court. The fine was imposed by Justice of the Peace Robert M. Seneshen. Crown Counsel was Alessandra Hollands.
The court also imposed 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.
Court heard that the company was erecting structural steel at a large construction project when the incident happened.
A foreperson and two labourers were rigging open web steel joist trusses to a mobile crane so they could be hoisted, the court heard. Each truss measured 50 feet long by 4 feet, 5 inches high and weighed approximately 5,700 lbs.
The crew was trying to separate a bundle of four trusses that were jammed together. They were able to separate the two outer trusses, which were then placed upright on either side of the bundle without being braced or secured from tipping.
One of the workers went to retrieve a crowbar at the other end of the bundle and walked back along a path between one of the separated trusses and a stack of metal decking, according to the court ruling.
“At that moment, the two jammed trusses suddenly came apart and knocked the unsecured truss, causing it to tip and injure the worker. At the time of the event, the trusses were not braced or secured from tipping over and there was no task-specific work procedure or training relating to the safe storage, movement or separation of jammed trusses, despite this being a common issue encountered by the company at other projects.”
The court ruled that the company violated Section 25(1)(c) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act by failing, as an employer, to ensure material or equipment at a project was stored and moved in a manner that did not endanger a worker, as required by section 37(1) of Ontario Regulation 213/91.