National Steel Car fined $140,000 over workplace death in Hamilton

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Published July 26, 2023 at 3:29 pm

COURTESY NATIONAL STEEL CAR
COURTESY NATIONAL STEEL CAR

National Steel Car Limited has been fined $140,000 after the railway car manufacturer pleaded guilty to breaking the province’s health and safety act in relation to a 2021 workplace accident in Hamilton.

The Ontario Court of Justice made the decision to fine the company on July 20 for violating the Occupational Health and Safety Act by failing “to maintain in good condition the safety release button” inside the personnel lift, according to a court bulletin issued today by the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development.

In addition, the court imposed a 25-per-cent victim fine surcharge, which is credited to a special provincial government fund to assist victims of crime.

The worker was preparing to spray paint a railcar when the person “sustained fatal injuries” while operating a personnel lift at 600 Kenilworth Ave. N. on April 23, 2021.

“The ministry is not able to share personal information. This includes both names and medical details such as injuries,” wrote Jennifer Rushby, spokesperson for the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development, in an email to inthehammer.com.

The person was one of two workers tasked with painting a railcar inside a large industrial-sized paint booth, according to the province’s court bulletin released today (July 26).

The victim had to use a personnel lift and position it close to the railcar to reach the wheels. To be able to paint the back of the wheels, the victim had to lean forward partly outside of the lift. The second worker left the area temporarily but found the victim slouched over the top railing of the personnel lift, which was moving upward.

The colleague had shouted for help and staff were able to remove the victim from the lift. However, the person suffered fatal injuries.

A ministry investigation concluded that the personnel lift “did not have a functional safety release mechanism.”

To prevent a similar incident from happening, National Steel Car implemented a safety checklist, according to the court bulletin. At the start of every shift, employees are required to record, in writing, whether personnel lifts are fully operational and safe to use. National Steel Car also hired a third-party cleaning company to clean and remove paint from the personnel lifts between every shift and every rail car manufactured.

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