Company fined $70K over worker’s death

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A Chatham demolition company has been fined $70,000, plus victim surcharges, in connection with the death of a worker in 2021.

According to provincial court documents, a representative from James Curran Expert Removal and Excavating entered a guilty plea for failing as a contractor to provide safety measures as outlined by the Ministry of Labour.

The case relates to the death of Justin Martin, 44, who fell from a platform while working on a project at 97 Centre St. in Chatham on July 19, 2021.

The report states the business “failed to ensure that the worker was adequately protected by a method of fall protection when exposed to a fall of more than three metres, contrary to section 25(1)(c) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.”

At the time, the company was engaged in the demolition of an old building formerly used as a grain silo. The building was a two-storey steel-framed structure with metal cladding, with the structural steel skeleton consisting of platforms at various heights.

At the time of the incident, the employee was on a platform that had holes in the floor and unguarded openings around three sides at a height of approximately 7.62 metres.. He was using an oxy-acetylene torch to cut pieces of steel that would be rigged to a crane and lowered.

Martin, who was removing an old hopper, was working off a ladder placed beside the hopper on the platform. When making a cut, one half of the hopper dropped suddenly onto the platform, causing him to fall off the ladder and over the edge of the platform to his death.

The Occupational Health and Safety Act dictates that a guardrail be installed under those conditions and that workers must be protected by a method of fall protection.

The total fine is $87,505. The company has been given two years to pay.

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