Signature Events Rental Shoppe fined $100,000 after electrical contact kills young worker, injures others

LONDON, Ontario: 1483322 Ontario Inc., carrying on business as Signature Events Rental Shoppe,   pleaded guilty and was fined $100,000 after a young worker was killed and others were injured while erecting a tent for a wedding.

On August 1, 2013, a crew of six workers was sent to a property near Watford to set up a tent in advance of a wedding to be held on the site. All were young workers (25 years of age and younger) and all were seasonal employees.

As one of the tent poles was being put into place, it came into contact with an overhead electrical service line, which sent electric current traveling down the pole to the ground; in addition, the ground was saturated from rainfall. Five of the six workers were injured by the initial shock. A secondary shock was delivered to some of the workers who were lying on the ground.

Two workers in the crew were able to drag their colleagues away from the pole and cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) was begun on two of the victims; air and land ambulances were sent as well as emergency medical services to aid the injured workers.

One of the workers was fatally injured; the cause of death was electrocution. Other workers suffered burns and dislocations.

A Ministry of Labour investigation found that none of the workers had received any safety training and that there had been no training with respect to recognizing and mitigating site hazards such as overhead power lines. No one from the business assessed the area in advance or asked for information about utilities, either overhead or underground. Further investigation found that the company failed to ensure that materials were lifted or moved in such a way that they did not endanger the safety of any worker, as required by law.

Signature Events Rental Shoppe pleaded guilty to failing, as a constructor, to ensure that the health and safety of workers was protected, and pleaded guilty to failing, as an employer, to provide adequate information, instruction and supervision to workers about the hazards of overhead electrical wires as required under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

The fine was imposed by Justice of the Peace Kristine M. Diaz in Provincial Offences Court in London on February 3; the company was given two years to pay. 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.