Powerline Plus fined $80k after workers suffer burns
By Anthony Capkun
September 15, 2015 – Powerline Plus Ltd.—an overhead and underground utility contractor—has pleaded guilty and been fined $80,000 after two workers suffered burns while working on electrical equipment that had not been properly shut off.
According to Ontario’s Ministry of Labour, Powerline was under contract to Toronto Hydro when workers arrived at a condominium building at 3900 Yonge Street in February 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 step-down transformers and switchgear. The handle on one of the switchgear 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 switchgear remained energized and, since both workers believed the panel was not live, they did not test to confirm. 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 switchgear unit and both workers received second- and first-degree burns; one of them also received third-degree burns.
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. In addition to the $80,000 fine, the court imposed a 25% victim fine surcharge, which is credited to a provincial government fund to assist victims of crime.