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Worker Critically Injured in Explosion, $70,000 Fine for Steel Fabricator in Sudbury Area

Court Bulletin

Worker Critically Injured in Explosion, $70,000 Fine for Steel Fabricator in Sudbury Area

Convicted: Noront Steel (1981) Limited, Walden Industrial Park, Copper Cliff, Ontario, operator of a steel fabrication facility.

Location: The company's facility at 100 Noront Road in the City of Greater Sudbury.

Description of Offence: A worker received critical injuries when a steel drum exploded into flames.

Date of Offence: August 24, 2018.

Date of Conviction: January 13, 2020.

Penalty Imposed:

  • Following a guilty plea, Noront Steel was fined $70,000 in provincial offences court in Sudbury by Justice of the Peace Sharon K. Ashick; Crown Counsel Wes Wilson.
  • The court also imposed a 25-per-cent 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.

Background:

  • When Noront produced small steel objects, it stored and shipped them in 45-gallon steel drums. The drums were obtained used from other facilities.
  • Typically the top would be cut off at Noront using an oxy-acetylene torch, and holes would be cut in the bottom of the barrel for drainage purposes. The barrels would be worked on in the condition they were received; they were not cleaned out first.
  • On August 24, 2018, a worker was cutting drainage holes into a drum with a torch when the barrel exploded into flames. The worker received critical injuries.
  • Investigation by the Centre for Forensic Sciences determined that the barrel contained flammable substances, included acetone, methyl ethyl ketone and toluene.
  • Section 78(1)(b) of the Industrial Establishments Regulation (Regulation 851) requires that "...where alternations are to be made on a drum, tank... or other container... [it] shall be drained and cleaned or otherwise rendered free from any explosive, flammable or harmful substance."
  • The barrel that exploded had not been rendered free from explosive and flammable substances before being provided to the worker for cutting. The contents of the barrel were not communicated to the worker and the label on the barrel indicated its contents were a substance that was not combustible.

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