Hydro One Networks Inc. fined $325,000 after worker crushed while moving electrical machinery

KINGSTON – Hydro One Networks Inc. has pleaded guilty and has been fined $325,000 after a worker was killed while moving power equipment at the electricity transmission and distribution company’s Hinchinbrooke Distribution Station.

On March 5, 2013, a crew of five workers at the power company’s distribution station at 287 White Lake Road in Central Frontenac Township was engaged in replacing a voltage regulator.  Because the regulator’s location has overhead steel beams, regulators cannot be moved and replaced using a crane alone; they have to be moved laterally.

The crew utilized a method called “jack and roll” which involved moving the regulator on wooden rollers. The existing regulator was removed without incident and the replacement regulator, weighing 15 tons, was then placed on a concrete pad to be moved into its final position. As it was being moved across wooden planking between two concrete pads, movement stopped because rollers were not fitting properly beneath the regulator.

One of the workers placed wooden blocking and mounted a jack with the intent of raising the edge of the regulator high enough to re-position the rollers and continue movement of the regulator. As the regulator was being raised, the jack slipped out of its position. The regulator tipped forward, trapping and crushing the worker. The other four workers were able to move the edge of the regulator enough to move the injured worker away. The worker succumbed to the injuries.

A Ministry of Labour investigation found that no written procedure existed for the jack-and-roll process. On other jack-and-roll procedures, workers had utilized equipment that stabilized movement and prevented uncontrolled forward movements; these were not used in this case.  The location of the jack was hazardous for the worker in the event of uncontrolled forward movement of the regulator.

Hydro One Networks Inc. pleaded guilty to failing, as an employer, to ensure that materials or equipment at a project be stored and moved in a manner that does not endanger a worker, as required by Ontario Regulation 213/91 (the Construction Projects Regulation) and the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

The company was fined $325,000 by Justice of the Peace Jack Chiang Provincial Offences Court in Kingston on January 13. In addition to the fine, the court imposed a 25-per-cent victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act. The surcharge is credited to a special provincial government fund to assist victims of crime.