Charges laid against Wal-Mart and supervisor after young worker electrocuted
By Alyssa Dalton
December 6, 2011 – WorkSafeNB has reported that on January 5, 2011, 17-year-old Patrick Desjardins died from an electrical shock he received while using a floor buffer that had been plugged into a standard 110-volt power source. He was working on a wet floor at the Wal-Mart store in Grand Falls, N.B.
WorkSafeNB has issued several orders against Wal-Mart, including: an order to take all reasonable precautions to protect its employees; to ensure that electrical equipment is suitable for its intended use and that it is installed, maintained, modified and operated in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications; and, to ensure that a tool is of good quality, is inspected, maintained and repaired by a competent person and is stored in a proper area. The employer complied with all orders issued, said WorkSafeNB.
WorkSafeNB laid seven charges against Wal-Mart, saying it failed to ensure:
• Health and safety of employees by allowing the use of an inappropriate floor polisher and a faulty extension cord in the garage area;
• Employees complied with specific requirements when using a tool;
• Garage was inspected by the employer at least once a month to identify any risks to the health and safety of the employees;
• A tool (a floor polisher) was inspected before use and repaired or replaced if necessary and was maintained in proper working condition;
• Employees were instructed to use a tool (a floor polisher) only for the specific purpose for which it was designed;
• An electric power-operated hand tool (a floor polisher) is tested for the effectiveness of the double insulation or bonding to ground before each use by a continuity tester or ground fault circuit interrupter; and
• Electrical equipment is suitable for its use and that it is maintained and modified in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications by permitting the use of a faulty extension cord in the garage area of the store.
Additionally, WorkSafeNB laid two charges against a supervisor, which include:
• Failure to ensure the health and safety of employees by allowing the use of an inappropriate floor polisher and a faulty extension cord in the garage area, and
• Failure to acquaint an employee with any hazards in connection with the use of a tool or machine, namely a floor polisher.
The case is now before the courts.