Ontario Firm Fined $300,000 for Violations that Led to Worker Deaths

Delgant 2000 Ltd., a Bolton, Ont.-based construction company, has been fined $300,000 and a company supervisor has been fined $30,000 for two violations each of Canada's Occupational Health and Safety Act that resulted in the deaths of two employees at a Toronto construction site.

On April 26, 2002, three workers were standing on a wooden platform over an elevator shaft on the 16th story of a partially constructed building when one side of a concrete beam "form" (a structure into which concrete was poured) collapsed in a penthouse suite above.

Wet concrete from the beam form poured onto the platform, which, in turn, collapsed. One worker was able to jump to safety. However, the other two workers fell a total of 18 floors, landing in a second-level garage of the building, and died, according to the Ontario Ministry of Labour.

At the time of the incident, other workers had been pouring concrete into the beam form to build a floor for the penthouse suite. When the form began to crack under the weight of the concrete, the three workers on the platform attempted to install metal "jacks" (propping-up devices) to shore up the form and prevent it from collapsing, according to the ministry.

The incident occurred at 80-88 Palace Pier Court, a two-tower condominium project on Toronto's waterfront. Delgant 2000 Ltd. had been contracted by the project's constructor, Shiu Pong Construction Ltd., to design and construct the formwork and pour the concrete structure for the buildings, according to the ministry.

Ministry Inquiry: No Engineering Design Was Done

A Ministry of Labour investigation found no engineering design for the collapsed formwork was done prior to the formwork's construction. Canadian law requires formwork to be designed by a professional engineer.

The collapsed formwork was built by two workers at the direction of the Delgant 2000 Ltd. supervisor and the supervisor disregarded safety concerns raised by the workers about the use of "snap ties" (connectors) in the formwork's construction, according to the ministry. The supervisor then ordered the concrete to be poured without having the formwork first inspected by a professional engineer or other designated competent worker.

The formwork collapsed due to a failure of the snap ties in the formwork's lower portion, the ministry says.

The wooden platform would have been able to support the weight of the three workers, as well as the wet concrete, if "aluma" beams (metal beams), normally used for such platforms, had been used instead of 4-by-4 wooden beams. The supervisor for Delgant 2000 had instructed the platform be built with the 4-by-4 wooden beams.

Delgant 2000 Pleaded Guilty to Two Counts

Delgant 2000 pleaded guilty, as an employer, to:

  • Failing to ensure an engineer's approval was obtained before concrete was poured into the formwork. This violated Section 89(2) of the Regulations for Construction Projects and Section 25(1)(c) of the act.
  • Failing to ensure the platform was constructed to support the stresses to which it was likely to be subjected. This violated Section 134(1) of the Regulations for Construction Projects and Section 25(1)(c) of the act.

Justice Robert Bigelow, of the Ontario Court of Justice in Toronto, fined the company $150,000 on each count.

In addition, a Delgant 2000 Ltd. supervisor pleaded guilty to:

  • Failing to ensure an engineer's approval was obtained before concrete was poured into the formwork. This violated Section 89(2) of the Regulations for Construction Projects and Section 27(1)(a) of the act.
  • Failing to ensure the platform was constructed to support the stresses to which it was likely to be subjected. This violated to Section 134(1) of the Regulations for Construction Projects and Section 27(1)(a) of the act.

Justice Bigelow fined the supervisor $15,000 on each count. The supervisor also was placed on probation for a period of 1 year.

In addition to the fines, the court imposed a 25-percent 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.

Shiu Pong Construction Fined in August

On Aug. 24, Shiu Pong Construction Ltd. was fined $285,000 for a violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act in connection with the incident.

Shiu Pong Construction Ltd. pleaded guilty to failing, as a constructor, to ensure that the formwork was inspected by a professional engineer prior to the placement of concrete. This violated Section 89(3) of the Regulation for Construction Projects, and Section 23(1)(a) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

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