Powerline Plus Limited, an overhead and underground utility contractor, has pleaded guilty and has been fined $80,000 after two workers suffered burns while working on electrical equipment that had not been properly shut off.
Powerline Plus was under contract to Toronto Hydro when workers arrived at a condominium building at 3900 Yonge Street on Feb. 18, 2014, to continue with ongoing underground electrical work. Two workers were instructed by their supervisor to enter an electrical vault to begin preparing termination of conductors that had been pulled into the vault.
The vault contained various energized electrical equipment including stepdown transformers and switch gears. The handle on one of the switch gears was in an open position with a blue tag attached indicating that there was work being conducted on the unit. Neither worker was aware that the switch gear remained energized and since both workers believed the panel was not live they did not test to see if the panel was energized. No rubber gloves were worn and no barriers were used.
As the workers positioned themselves and began work, there was an arc flash within the switch gear unit and both workers received second- and first-degree burns; one of them also received third-degree burns.
Ontario Regulation 213/91 (the Construction Projects Regulation) prescribes that "if work is to be done on or near energized exposed parts of electrical equipment or of an electrical installation or conductor... the power supply to the electrical equipment... shall be disconnected, locked out of service and tagged... before the work begins, and kept disconnected, locked out of service and tagged while the work continues." Powerline Plus failed as an employer to ensure that the measures and procedures prescribed by law were carried out, contrary to the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
Justice of the Peace Lena Crawford imposed a fine of $80,000 in Toronto court on Sept. 10, 2015.
In addition to the fine, the court imposed a 25 percent 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.