Vimar Electrical Group Ltd. fined $75,000 for health and safety violation

HAMILTON, ON, April 7 /CNW/ - Vimar Electrical Group Ltd., a Richmond Hill, Ont.-based electrical contractor, was fined $75,000 on April 6, 2005 for a violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act that resulted in the death of one worker and serious burns to another in Oakville, Ont.

On June 26, 2003, two workers were upgrading electrical service at a mall when an explosion occurred. The incident occurred after one of the workers was directed to do a final hook-up of a 600-volt electrical panel in the main electrical room. The other worker, a fourth-year apprentice electrician, was assigned to assist the first worker. The first worker inserted a fuse into a disconnect switch while the power to the switch was live. This resulted in the explosion. The first worker received third-degree burns to 80 per cent of the body and died the next day. The apprentice electrician received first- and second-degree burns to the face and arms. The incident occurred at the Winston Gate Shopping Centre at 2525 Hampshire Gate in Oakville. Vimar Electrical Group Ltd. had been contracted to do the electrical work at the mall.

A Ministry of Labour investigation found the power should have been disconnected and all potential sources of power locked out before any work was done on the electrical panel, as required by the Regulations for Construction Projects. The ministry also found the electrical work should have been performed by a certified electrician. As well, the apprentice was required to work under the supervision of a certified electrician. However, the first worker was not a certified electrician and Vimar Electrical Group Ltd. made no inquiries of the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, which is responsible for the administration of the trades certification legislation, to ascertain whether the first worker was a certified electrician, nor was any certification documentation provided by the first worker to the company.

Vimar Electrical Group Ltd. pleaded guilty, as an employer, to failing to ensure an electrician certified under the Trades Qualification and Apprenticeship Act, or a person with equivalent qualifications, connected the electrical equipment, as required by Section 181(1) of the Regulations for Construction Projects. This was contrary to Section 25(1)(c) of the act.

The fine was imposed by Justice Timothy Culver of the Ontario Court of Justice in Hamilton. In addition, the court 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.


Court Information at a Glance

Location: Ontario Court of Justice
45 Main Street East, Courtroom 308
Hamilton, Ontario

Judge: Justice Timothy Culver

Date/Time: April 6, 2005, 10 a.m.

Defendant: Vimar Electrical Group Ltd.

Matter: Occupational Health & Safety
(submitted by Tony Moscioni)