Two men who allegedly took an 11,000-kilogram compactor for a joyride west of Edmonton before abandoning it on train tracks, are being sued by CN Rail.
Also being sued is Aecon Construction Company, a contractor who allegedly left the compactor at an unsecured worksite with an unlocked electrical isolation switch cover, making it vulnerable to theft.
An 86-car freight train slammed into the paving machine in darkness on July 10, 2008, causing two locomotives and 12 cars to derail. Fortunately, none of the train cars was carrying hazardous materials. No injuries were reported.
The lawsuit alleges that the men, both 27, either knew or ought to have known that trains were likely to proceed along the tracks upon which the paving machine had been abandoned.
Police said it was fortunate that the derailment didn’t cause train cars to fall onto busy Highway 16 below. CN Rail is seeking $2 million for damage to the train, tracks and surrounding property.Read More
A Christmas Eve 2009 scaffold collapse that killed four migrant workers in Toronto and badly injured a fifth worker has brought multiple OHS charges against two companies and managers.
The Ontario Ministry of Labour has laid 30 charges against Metron Construction Corp., along with 16 charges against a company director and eight against a supervisor.
Swing “N” Scaff Inc., which supplied the platform that collapsed, faces four charges, while a company director has been charged with three OHS violations.
The Ministry of Labour did not name the three individuals facing charges.
Five workers were repairing balconies at a Toronto apartment block when the scaffold upon which they were working gave way, plunging the men 13 stories to the ground. Miraculously, one of the men survived, suffering serious spinal and leg injuries.
The survivor, Dilshod Marupov, 22, is reportedly still in constant pain and can barely get out of bed. He has launched a lawsuit seeking $16.3 million in damages.
Among the numerous OHS charges against Metron are allegations of:
The charges against Swing “N” Scaff Inc. include:
Info to go: Read more about scaffolding safety by clicking on the Info to Go safety links at www.SafeSupervisor.comRead More
Leaving an accident scene to get help was the wrong thing for an employee to do after his work vehicle struck and killed a horse. That action has resulted in a large jury award to a woman whose car struck the dead horse in darkness.
A jury in Washington State has awarded Nanette Aurdal $2.7 million for injuries she received in the December 2001 accident.
The jury found that Sprint’s United Telephone Company of the Northwest was liable because one of its employees, John Burston, had left the scene after the bucket truck he had been driving struck the horse. The truck was carrying flares, cones and other safety devices that could have been utilized to warn other drivers that a dead horse was on the road.
Aurdal suffered spinal injuries that resulted in chronic pain and significant financial hardship. The jury heard that her injuries made it impossible for her to have children and she had to close down a family business because she could only work for two hours per day.Read More
A jury in Alabama has awarded a woman $10 million in damages for the work-related death of her husband two years ago.
Christopher Hardin Dupree, 28, died on June 18, 2008 after falling about 150 feet from a water tank he was painting in Hurtsboro, AL. His widow, Erica Fleming Dupree, successfully sued general contractor Robinson and Sons Construction Services of Haleyville, AL, for negligence and failure to provide safe working conditions.
Dupree had been suspended from a rope on top of the tank and was wearing a harness, but it is believed his safety gear somehow malfunctioned, causing him to fall.
Dupree’s attorney, Chuck Kelley, asked jurors to bring a verdict that would send the message home that unsafe working conditions won’t be tolerated.Read More
OSHA has ordered New Jersey Transit to almost $575,000 to a worker for violating the Federal Railroad Safety Act by retaliating against an employee who reported a work-related illness.
New Jersey Transit brought an employee up on charges for missing work after suffering a work-related illness as a result of witnessing a fatal accident involving another worker. The railroad also cut the worker’s pay and suspended him.
The worker then filed a whistleblower complaint with OSHA, alleging that the railroad had retaliated against him for reporting his work-related illness. OSHA investigated and found that the employee’s complaint had merit.
OSHA has ordered New Jersey Transit to expunge from the worker’s records all disciplinary actions taken against him. The railroad must also provide back pay, lost benefit payments, interest, compensatory damages, punitive damages and attorney fees totaling almost $575,000.Read More
A court case in Michigan could have major consequences for US employers. A woman who suffered serious injuries while at work in November 2003 is being allowed to sue her former employer.
Randall Boss, outsource risk manager for Ottawa-Kent in Jenison, MI, says workers’ compensation insurance has traditionally been a buffer between employers and lawsuits that workers could otherwise file against their employers if they became injured on the job. That’s no longer the case.
On her very first day on the job at Mavrick Metal Stamping in Mancelona, MI, Kristi Fries reached into a 110-ton stamping press to remove a part and her unzipped sweatshirt triggered the machine’s controls. The press closed onto her arms, resulting in the amputation of both limbs between the wrist and elbow.
Fries said she wasn’t warned that wearing loose clothing around the machine was hazardous, or the fact that the machine had previously malfunctioned.
In 2006 she sued her employer, alleging that the company knew the machine had a safety defect. Another employee said he had informed Mavrick supervisors about the machine malfunctioning two years before the press injured Fries.
Mavrick tried to have a suit dismissed on the grounds that it didn’t have a solid legal basis. But the company failed to convince the Michigan Court of Appeals that the only recourse Fries should have was to collect workers’ compensation benefits. The case will now proceed to trial.
Boss says the court found that Fries had introduced sufficient evidence that unwarned workers were at serious risk for injury when using the press and that the company had willfully disregarded and ignored the hazard.
He notes that Maverick had a history of safety violations dating to 1992 and it had been fined $360,000 by MIOSHA (Michigan OSHA) for failure to properly train Fries. Also, the press was not equipped with “pull backs”—safety devices that would have pulled the operator’s arms away if the machine cycled. Nor did the machine have light sensors that would have prevented accidental activation of the press by loose clothing.
Fries, 28, who now washes laundry for a living, has suffered depression since losing her forearms.
“There is no question that this manufacturer pushed the limits on job safety. Since Fries was injured on her first day on the job, it is evident she was not given adequate training,” says Boss. “For businesses to avoid a duplication of the Mavrick incident, a structured safety process that starts with supervisor training needs to be a top priority.”
Boss says all employees should spend time with experienced workers to learn how equipment functions and which hazards are associated with its operation. If they don’t know how the equipment works, they won’t know if it isn’t functioning properly.
The moment a problem becomes evident, the worker needs to report it to his or her supervisor and the machine should immediately be taken out of operation, he adds.
Boss says the fallout of the Mavrick incident has been great, not only in terms of what Fries is dealing with, but also the fact that the company has gone out of business, putting 50 workers on the street.
He says it remains to be seen whether employers will heed the Mavrick case’s wake-up call.Read More
A company under contract to the US Navy has been ordered to pay $45,000 to an employee who was fired after filing a safety complaint to Cal-OSHA (California’s state OSHA program).
An OSHA investigation determined that the worker had been fired after complaining to Westfield, MA-based NWS Corp. about being required to climb microwave towers, work in manholes and enter asbestos-filled buildings without safety training or equipment while working at several San Diego-area military installations.
NWS Corp. was under contract to perform installation, construction and maintenance of cable and Internet systems for the US Navy.
The US Department of Labor’s Office of the Solicitor filed a lawsuit after NWS Corp. refused to reinstate the worker to the same or an equivalent position and refused to pay back wages or other employment benefits.
“We will vigorously pursue employers who attempt to stifle workers’ voices. NWS Corp. made a serious mistake by taking action against a worker who complained about unsafe working conditions and by failing to make restitution following OSHA’s findings,” says Ken Atha, OSHA’s regional administrator in San Francisco.Read More
Two construction companies have each been fined $15,000, plus $2,250 victim fine surcharges, in connection with the tragic death of a three-year-old girl in Calgary in August 2009.
Michelle Krsek died instantly when a two-meter section of sheet metal flew from the roof of an 18-story building under construction and struck her. The young girl had been walking to dinner with her family.
Her father and six-year-old brother received serious injuries in the accident. Pleading guilty to charges of causing or allowing unsafe conditions were Germain Residences of Quebec City, QC, and Flynn Canada, a project subcontractor.
Court heard that a 250-kilogram pile of sheet metal had not been properly secured to the roof. Of seven screws driven into the metal, only four had penetrated the roof.
While Judge Gerald Meagher noted that a $15,000 fine for each company was “woefully inadequate,” he said it was the maximum allowable penalty under the Safety Codes Act.
The victim’s family and city officials in Calgary are pushing for an increase in maximum fines under the Act.Read More
A company that allegedly mistreated its workers, many of whom were immigrants, has been ordered to pay about 57 former tree planters more than $225,000 in unpaid wages.
The British Columbia Employment Standards branch conducted an investigation into the alleged mistreatment of the workers after receiving information from BC Ministry of Forests workers, who indicated the tree planters were enduring substandard working conditions.
They were not being properly fed, were not provided safe drinking water, were not provided with proper sanitation facilities, were accommodated in unheated shelters and were paid with checks that bounced, at various sites around British Columbia.
The workers, many of whom are landed immigrants from the Republic of Congo and Burundi, were also denied breaks, subjected to racist comments and threats from supervisors and driven to and from camps in overloaded vans that lacked enough seatbelts.
Khaira Enterprises of Surrey, BC, was ordered to compensate the former workers and company owners Khalid Mahmood Bajwa and Hardilpreet Singh Sidhu were fined $3,500 each for violating the BC Employment Standards Act.Read More
An Ontario roofing contractor tried to fool government safety officials by putting a fall harness on an injured worker who had fallen from a roof. But the inspectors didn’t fall for it and the supervisor’s attempt at deception cost him 30 days in jail.
In 2004 a worker fell from a roof (three stories high) into a refuse bin on the ground. He suffered a bruised shin. Prior to the fall, the accused instructed the victim to climb onto the roof to remove old shingles so they could be replaced. After about 10 minutes on the roof, the employee fell. It was his first day on the job.
A Ministry of Labour investigation found the worker was not wearing a fall protection harness. However, as the worker lay injured in the bin, the contractor put a fall harness on the man and told him to inform investigators that he had been wearing it on the roof. The employee complied with the order, but investigators later learned the truth.
The contractor pleaded guilty to failing to ensure the worker was using fall protection. Following a trial on a separate matter, K.B. Home Insulation Ltd. from Kingston was found guilty of two violations in connection with the worker’s fall:
The court fined the company $43,000, in addition to a victim fine surcharge of 25 percent.Read More