Aecon Construction fined $90,000 after worker Injured by reversing bulldozer at Ottawa worksite

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

Aecon Construction Ontario East Limited pleaded guilty in Ontario Court on Oct. 29 and was charged $90,000 recently, in connection to an incident that happened on Highway 417 between Maitland Avenue and Island Park in Ottawa.

According to an Ontario Court report, a worker received critical injuries on June 11, 2018 after contact with a reversing bulldozer.

“The operator of the bulldozer should have had the assistance of a signaller watching for people who may have been in the path of the bulldozer,” the report says.

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.

According to court documents,  a worker and an equipment operator were working as a team on a part of Highway 417 in Ottawa. The worker was tasked with taking elevation readings using a GPS laser and marking out the readings on the ground, while the equipment operator was operating a bulldozer.

The worker taking the readings could not receive a signal for the GPS equipment and attempted to locate a signal by walking to different areas of the site. While doing so, he had his back to the bulldozer.

The bulldozer’s operator was in the process of back-blading material, a process where the operator pushes material forward and then runs the blade over the material in reverse.

“The operator placed the bulldozer in reverse (which activated the back-up alarm on the bulldozer) looked over one shoulder and proceeded to reverse after not noticing anyone behind. The back-up alarm could not be heard over the noise of Highway 417,” the report said.

The worker taking readings was knocked to the ground.

When the operator noticed two survey workers running toward the bulldozer he stopped the bulldozer, saw a hardhat on the ground, exited the bulldozer and found the worker on the ground.

As a result of the contact, the worker suffered critical injuries

A visibility and line-of-sight assessment was conducted by a Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development ergonomist. The line-of-sight assessment identified any blind spots or areas with an obstructed view from the perspective of the equipment operator.

The ministry concluded that the injured worker would not reasonably have been noticed by the equipment operator while the bulldozer was reversing and the ability for the operator to view the worker within the rear-view mirror while reversing would have become progressively more obstructed.

“In such a scenario, a signaller should have been used to assist the equipment operator,” the court decision said.

Section 104, subsection 3 of O. Reg. 213/91 – the Regulation for Construction Projects – states that operators of vehicles, machines and equipment shall be assisted by signallers if the operator’s view of the intended path of travel is obstructed and/or a person could be endangered by the vehicle, machine or equipment or by its load.

Aecon “failed to ensure that the equipment operator was assisted by a signaller as required by the regulation,” the court report concluded.

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