Electrocution is no way to launch wedding festivities!
By Anthony Capkun
February 3, 2015 – Signature Events Rental Shoppe (a.k.a. 1483322 Ontario Inc.) pleaded guilty and was fined $100,000 after a young worker was killed and others were injured due to overhead powerline contact while erecting a tent for a wedding.
In August 2013, a crew of six workers was sent to a property near Watford, Ontario, to set up a tent in advance of a wedding to be held on the site. All of them were 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 current travelling 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 CPR was started 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.
An Ontario 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 powerlines. No one from the business assessed the area in advance or asked for information about utilities, either overhead or underground. Further investigation found 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.
Signature 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.
In addition to the fine, the court imposed a 25% victim fine surcharge, which is credited to a provincial government fund to assist victims of crime.