Construction supervisor fined $70,000 after workplace fatality

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

The former construction supervisor of Concord’s Infrastructure Coatings (Ontario) has been fined $70,000 after an August 2020 workplace fatality.

A worker died from injuries sustained in an explosion and an investigation found that the construction supervisor “failed to ensure that a fire extinguisher was provided at a project where open-flame operations were carried out, as prescribed by Ontario Regulation 213/91 and contrary to the Occupational Health and Safety Act.”

Following a guilty plea in the Ontario Court of Justice in Newmarket, Ontario, Tony Ventrone, former construction supervisor of Infrastructure Coatings (Ontario) Corporation, was fined $70,000 by Justice Edward Prutschi. Crown Counsel was David McCaskill.

Infrastructure Coatings was contracted by a constructor under contract to the Regional Municipality of York to re-line an underground water chamber with spray waterproofing as part of a watermain remediation project.

The court found that the company appied waterproof coating to the chamber in July 2020 and a follow-up inspection revealed that a corner of the chamber was spongy and required re-spraying so the company returned and cut out the spongy area.

On Aug. 5, 2020, when workers returned to the site to re-spray the waterproof coating, one worker and a waterstop supervisor acting as a “safety watch” completed the Confined Space Entry Permit and set up rescue and ventilation equipment prior to the worker entering the chamber to conduct repairs and cleaning. Access to the 17-foot deep, eight-foot by eight-foot chamber was through a manhole with a fixed vertical ladder.

After completing repairs, the worker used Methyl Ethyl Ketone (MEK) to clean the chamber, an “extremely volatile and flammable” product. A short time later, the worker was going to re-enter the chamber with a propane torch to speed up the drying process before applying the spray waterproofing.

The waterstop supervisor advised worker not to use the torch, before being distracted by their phone, according to the court report. “At the same time the worker lit the torch near the manhole entrance. MEK fumes being purged from the chamber ignited, causing an explosion that critically injured the worker.

“There was no fire extinguisher at the scene. The worker died from their injuries several days later.”

Construction supervisor Tony Ventrone was in his truck at the site but not present at the incident scene and failed, as a supervisor, to ensure that fire extinguishing equipment was provided and readily accessible at a project where open-flame operations were carried out, as required by section 52(2)(c) of Ontario Regulation 213/91 and contrary to section 27(1)(a) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the report stated.

 

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