News Briefs: City Fined $150K in Sewer Worker’s Death

In this week’s news, a report by Canada’s Ministry of Labour details how a city worker’s death could have been prevented
News Briefs: City Fined $150K in Sewer Worker’s Death

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The City of Welland, Ontario, was fined $150,000 after a city worker died as a result of an infection he contracted after being critically injured on the job.

According to the Ministry of Labour (MOL), the worker was part of a crew that was sent to inspect a sewer backup on Dec. 9, 2013. It was determined that the sewer access cover had a blocked lateral pipe, so the crew attempted to clear the blockage using a jet/vac truck equipped with a rodding system.

The workers could only empty about 6 feet of waste and could not actually see the pipe or blockage.

“The crew then attempted to use the pressure hose to loosen the blockage in the pipe,” states a press release from the MOL. “The pressure hose was attached to a rodder nozzle and lowered into the sewer/access cover towards the unseen lateral pipe; the pressure hose was not equipped with a guide fin.

“The pressure hose was activated with the rodder nozzle outside the blocked lateral pipe, at which point the hose and nozzle unexpectedly returned, deflected off a crew member and struck the worker. The struck worker received multiple puncture wounds and suffered the blood loss.”

The worker was taken by ambulance to a hospital where he was later diagnosed with an infection stemming from the incident, reports the Daily Commercial News. The worker was initially hospitalized in the intensive care unit, prescribed antibiotics and maintained on a ventilator. The worker also underwent surgery twice for wound closure.

The worker’s condition gradually improved while receiving antibiotic treatment; however, he ultimately succumbed to the injuries on Dec. 26, 2013. The coroner’s investigation indicated that the cause of death was due to an injury at work, according to the report.

The MOL states the defendant failed as an employer to provide information, instruction and supervision to a worker on safe work practices while operating a jet/vac truck. An MOL inspector concluded “that the workplace had no mandatory written policies or procedures requiring that workers not activate the rodding system when the lateral sewer pipe is not visible; that the truck’s manuals required that workers read and understand the manuals; and that the method used by the crew was inconsistent with a code of practice requiring that operators be qualified by proper training.”

The newspaper says that manuals indicated that operators should not pressurize the jetting nozzle outside the sewer pipe and the nozzle should have a guide fin. Furthermore, the Occupational Health and Safety Act requires that all industrial accidents that result in critical injury or death be immediately reported to the MOL. The MOL states the City of Welland did not report either the critical injury or the fatality to the ministry until Dec. 31, 2013.

Source: Daily Commercial News


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