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Death of Worker in Trench Results in $75,000 Fine | SafetyOn
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Death of Worker in Trench Results in $75,000 Fine

Author | Safety Reporter
Posted by SafetyON | October 13, 2016

TORONTO, ONTARIO - Utility Force Inc. pleaded guilty and was given a fine of $75,000 in court after a worker died in a trench that collapsed.
On July 24, 2014, the company was engaged in the installation of water and sewer lines at a residential construction site on Venn Crescent, in the City of Toronto.

Death of Worker in Trench Results in $75,000 Fine

A backhoe operator dug a trench from each of two residences, joining into a single trench in a "Y" configuration leading to the municipal water and sewer main lines. The depth of the excavation at one of the residences was about 10 or 11 feet.

The sides of the excavation were not sloped, and excavated material had been piled about three feet (one metre) from the edge of the trench. An 8-foot-deep by 10-foot-long shoring box was available, sitting on a flatbed trailer a short distance from the excavation. The dimensions of that trench box were not sufficient to shore a 10- to 11-foot deep excavation.

One of the workers entered the unshored and unsloped trench to clear dirt away which had fallen onto the pipe, despite other workers' urging to the contrary. At that point the supervisor was sitting in a truck completing paperwork, and did not see or instruct the worker about entering the trench.

The side of the excavation collapsed, burying the worker in the trench up to the chest. A worker, the supervisor and two responding police officers jumped into the trench in an attempt to free the trapped worker; however, the commander of the responding fire department ordered everyone out of the excavation. Moments later a second cave-in completely buried the worker and the worker died as a result of that trench collapse.

A Ministry of Labour investigation found that Utility Force had no documented training of its employees on that crew relating to the hazard of working in trenches or of the legal requirement for the use of shoring boxes if entering an unsloped trench.
The company was fined $75,000 by Judge Howard Borenstein in Toronto court on October 7, 2016.

Court Information at a Glance

Provincial Offences Court/Ontario Court of Justice
60 Queen Street West
Courtroom 102
Toronto, Ontario

Judge Howard Borenstein

Date of Sentencing:
October 7, 2016

Utility Force Inc.
50 Bertal Road
Toronto, Ontario

Occupational health and safety

Occupational Health and Safety Act
Section 25(1)(c)
Regulation 213/91 (Construction Projects Regulation)
Section 234(1)

Crown Counsel:
Wes Wilson