Comply or pay: employees exposed to lead in latest safety failure

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Two Ontario companies are facing high payouts after ignoring the law and direct orders from the Ministry of Labour.

Toronto bar and restaurant Harbour Sports Grille was fined $110,000 this week for failing to comply with orders from the Ministry of Labour dating back to June 2011. The orders included addressing the lack of a joint health and safety committee, required policies and programs (health and safety, violence and harassment), material safety data sheets and safety mechanisms such as guards.

The case went to trial where the company was found guilty of 13 violations.

Ontario Power Generation pleaded guilty to failing to follow notification procedures required under the Occupational Health and Safety Act and was fined $75,000.

The case centred on the company's Bowmanville-based Darlington Nuclear Generating Station, where workers were exposed to lead fumes after the company failed to inform those dismantling shielding canopies that the material contained lead shot.

Neither the supervisor nor the workers were aware of the presence of the lead shots prior to beginning the work. Lead exposure in concentrations that exceed the prescribed occupational exposure limits for lead can be hazardous to a person's health. The workers were wearing face shields appropriate for torch-cutting activities but because the supervisor was not aware of the presence of lead shot in the frame, the workers were not wearing respiratory protection required for use when exposure to lead is possible.

In October 2011, two of the workers filed claims with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board in respect of an occupational illness potentially resulting from their possible exposure to lead that August and OPG failed to provide the required notice to the Ministry of Labour.


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