OCOT Enforcement Absent in Spite of Electrical Shock to Unqualified Worker

danger sign electric shockIn a news bulletin released on June 29, 2018, CBRE Limited was fined $80,000 after one of their workers received an electrical shock. There has been no mention of further action from OCOT or the MOL with regards to the contravention of the Ontario College of Trades and Apprenticeship Act (OCOTAA).

According to the Province of Ontario’s Newsroom site, CBRE Limited of Toronto was fined $80,000 after a non-electrician experienced a shock while attempting electrical work. He was taken to the hospital and treated for critical injuries.

The worker (described as a ‘technician’) was trying to change a lighting ballast at the time they received the shock. (For those who aren’t familiar with commercial lighting, a ballast is not the same as the ‘light bulb’ – a ballast is the housing for the lamp – it regulates the amount of current.)

The worker was a member of a two-person team specifically tasked by CBRE Limited with changing the ballast in the cafeteria at Roberta Bondar Place in Sault Ste. Marie on March 31, 2015. The workers went to the electrical room, and went to the cafeteria, under the impression they’d successfully cut the power to the fixtures in question.

But when one worker went up the ladder to reach the fixture, they received an electrical shock. The worker was able to climb down the ladder, but as mentioned his injuries were serious and required medical attention.

As of April 12, 2018, CBRE was convicted on two counts:

  • Violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), section 25(2)(a), “which requires that an employer provide information, instruction and supervision to a worker to protect the health or safety of the worker.”
  • Violation of the OHSA, section 25(1)(c), “which provides that an employer shall ensure that the prescribed measures and procedures are complied with. Section 42(1) of the Ontario Regulation 851(Industrial Establishments) prescribes that the power supply to electrical installations, equipment or conductors shall be disconnected, locked out of service and tagged before any work is done, and while it is being done, on or near live exposed parts of the installations, equipment or conductors.”

Even though the offence is now over two years old, there is no mention of the contravention of the Ontario College of Trades and Apprenticeship ACT (OCTAA) Sections 2 and 4, which require electrical work to be performed by certified electricians.

When asked about the omission, the official communications officer Janet Deline said, “Our court bulletins only pertain to prosecutions related Ministry of Labour legislation. i.e. the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Employment Standards Act. We do not enforce the OCTAA and anything related to the College’s findings is not included in the bulletins.” (Via email.)

Where is the Enforcement from OCOT?

As of July 5, 2018, there has been no mention of the incident on the OCOT website. In spite of announced intentions in April to ramp up enforcement, it still seems to be sadly lacking.

“We can only hope that OCOT steps up before someone is killed. There’s a reason there are rules stating that only electricians should be doing electrical work,” says James Barry, Executive Chairman of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Construction Council of Ontario.