Bluewater Power fined $120,000 in 2012 death of worker
By Renée Francoeur
June 3, 2015 – Bluewater Power Distribution Corp., the utility providing electricity distribution and related services in the Sarnia-Lambton area of Ontario, has been fined $120,000 in the 2012 death of a worker who was performing repair work following the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
The worker was one of two who had been assigned post-storm repair work on Passingham Drive in Sarnia, where trees had downed power lines, according to the Ontario Ministry of Labour.
The ministry goes on to cite what happened next:
On October 31, 2012, the two workers cleared tree limbs and began to repair the electrical lines. One worker was working from an aerial bucket while the other was working from the ground, and they began working on the downed primary neutral line.
The worker in the bucket had been working with leather gauntlet gloves and was preparing to make the final connection by fastening the neutral end to a connector that completes the circuit path. That worker called down to the other to bring rubber gloves from the cab of their truck. While the worker was heading to the truck cab to retrieve the rubber gloves, the truck shook and the boom of the bucket dropped.
The worker in the bucket was taken to hospital and could not be revived. The cause of death was determined to be electrocution.
An investigation revealed that no job plan or tailboard was in place prior to the commencement of work. Job planning and documentation of a tailboard is a requirement under the Electrical Utility Safety (EUSR) Book, Rule 107.
In a statement, the worker who was on site indicated that a job plan was normally completed prior to the project but it was not completed this time because they were anxious to bring the power back to the community.
The worker had been wearing leather gloves, which have a reduced electrical resistance compared to rubber gloves. Following the incident, the worker’s gloves were found to contain some dampness, which would have further weakened their resistance to electricity.
Bluewater Power Distribution Corporation pleaded guilty to failing as an employer to ensure that workers performed a documented job plan. Justice of the Peace Anna Hampson fined the company on May 25 in Sarnia court.
In addition to the fine, the court imposed a 25% 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.