Toronto Construction Firm Fined $285,000 for Violation that Led to Two Worker Deaths

An Ontario judge has issued a $285,000 fine to Toronto-based Shiu Pong Construction Ltd. after the company pleaded guilty to a health and safety violation that resulted in the deaths of two workers in 2002.

The two workers were killed on April 26, 2002, when they fell down an elevator shaft at a construction project in Toronto, according to the Ontario Ministry of Labour.

The two workers were installing anchor bolts and base plates on the top floor of a 16-story building under construction. At the same time, concrete was being poured by other workers constructing the floor of the penthouse suite into a form being used to construct a concrete beam.

The form began to crack under the weight of the concrete being poured. The two workers, and a third worker, stepped onto a wooden platform located over the elevator shaft in order to install metal jacks to shore up the form and prevent it from collapsing. While they were attempting this, the side of the form collapsed, allowing concrete to pour onto the wooden platform on which they were standing. The platform collapsed.

One worker was able to jump to safety, but two workers fell a total of 18 floors into the second garage level of the building.

The incident occurred at a construction site at Palace Pier Court on Toronto's lakefront.

A Ministry of Labour investigation found that there were no guardrails or other protective equipment in use around the elevator machine room, and that a pre-inspection of the form was not completed prior to the concrete being poured, as required by the Regulations for Construction Projects. Snap ties were used in the construction of the formwork rather than spin-outs, which may have been safer, and wood beams were used to build the platform rather than aluma beams, according to the ministry.

No engineering design was done for the construction of the formwork. The platform was not adequate for the purpose for which it was used, in terms of the safety of the workers, according to the ministry.

Shiu Pong Construction pleaded guilty in the Ontario Court of Justice in Toronto to failing, as a constructor, to ensure that the formwork was inspected by a professional engineer prior to the placement of concrete, which violated Canada's Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Regulations for Construction Projects.

The Honourable Justice Ayres V. Couto fined the company $285,000. In addition, 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.

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