An employer has beat occupational health and safety charges laid
after its supervisor caused an explosion when he defied
instructions and took it upon himself to use a torch to thaw ice
that had accumulated in a culvert.
In a production meeting, the supervisor raised the issue of the
ice accumulation in a culvert under the plant service road. He said
he was worried that water would flow over the road and prevent
access to a cooling tower at a power generation plant operated by
the employer. The acting production manager told him not to address
the problem because it would be a waste of time as the ice would
melt on its own, and the road had not washed out in the six years
that the production manager had worked there.
The supervisor defied instructions and used a "tiger
torch" to try to melt the ice, placing the torch in the
culvert. The torch went out and gas accumulated in the culvert.
When another worker, directed by the supervisor, went to check on
the torch, and tried to light the torch again, there was an
explosion. The worker sustained burns to his face, hand, fingers
The employer was charged with four offences under
Saskatchewan's The Occupational Health and Safety Act
including inadequate training.
The court decided that the supervisor and the injured worker had
the training necessary in order to avoid the accident. The
supervisor had attended a four-day "supervisory
essentials" course. The court was satisfied that the company
provided the supervisor with "everything he needed to know to
prevent the accident". Also, he had been told not to address
the culvert task. Had he been directed to address it, he would have
required a work order that would have led to the preparation of a
safety and risk hazard form and an application for a hot work
permit. Further, the employer could not reasonably have
foreseen the supervisor's use of the tiger torch or that he
would enlist the other worker to assist him.
In conclusion, the court held that the company had taken
reasonable care to ensure that the worker and supervisor were
properly trained to avoid the accident. The charges were
Dentons is the world's first polycentric global law firm. A
top 20 firm on the Acritas 2015 Global Elite Brand Index, the Firm
is committed to challenging the status quo in delivering consistent
and uncompromising quality and value in new and inventive ways.
Driven to provide clients a competitive edge, and connected to the
communities where its clients want to do business, Dentons knows
that understanding local cultures is crucial to successfully
completing a deal, resolving a dispute or solving a business
challenge. Now the world's largest law firm, Dentons'
global team builds agile, tailored solutions to meet the local,
national and global needs of private and public clients of any size
in more than 125 locations serving 50-plus countries.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances. Specific Questions relating to
this article should be addressed directly to the author.
To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
Unfortunately, reasonable accommodation for employees in the workplace continues to be the source of significant litigation and even today we continue to see outrageous examples of employers behaving badly.
A former teacher at Bodwell High School has learned a valuable lesson from the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal— it is not discriminatory for an employer to offer child-related benefits to only employees with children.
We are now beginning to see reported cases involving charges and subsequent fines laid against employers for failing to provide information, instruction and supervision to protect a worker from workplace violence.
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).