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Ontario: Steel Maker Fined $125,000 for Violations Related to Worker Death

Chrima Iron Work Ltd. Corp., a Stratford, Ontario-based steel manufacturer, has been fined $125,000 (U.S. $107,889) for a safety violation that authorities say resulted in the death of an employee.

On Aug. 23, 2001, a worker was helping move a partially constructed "smoke box" (a large metal piece) so it could be welded on another side when the 285-kilogram (628-pound) box fell onto the worker. At the time of the incident, the worker was on the ground pushing on the bottom of the smoke box while a second worker was using a forklift to lift the smoke box. The first worker was attempting to tilt the smoke box onto the forklift's forks but, rather than falling back, the smoke box fell forward.

The first worker was taken by ambulance to Stratford General Hospital and died early the next morning.

The incident occurred at the company's plant in Perth East Township in the Stratford area.

Following a trial, Chrima Iron Work Ltd. was found guilty, as an employer, of failing to ensure the smoke box was transported so that it did not tip, collapse or fall, as required by Section 45(b)(i) of the Regulations for Industrial Establishments. This was contrary to Section 25(1)(c) of the province's Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Case Initially Was Dismissed

Justice of the Peace Ron Trachey initially dismissed the case on June 2, 2003 in the Ontario Court of Justice in Stratford. However, the government appealed and the decision was overturned on June 21, 2004, by Justice Katie McKerlie of the Ontario Court of Justice in Stratford.

The retrial resulting in the current conviction took place before Justice of the Peace Susan Hoffman in the Ontario Court of Justice in Stratford on Dec. 7, 2004, and May 30 and 31, 2005.

Justice of the Peace Hoffman registered a conviction on Oct. 27, 2005, finding that a truly diligent employer would have ensured procedures for transporting large metal fabricated products were written, posted and presented to employees on a regular and ongoing basis.

In addition to the fine imposed by Justice of the Peace Hoffman, 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.

Exchange rate is as of March 20.

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