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Worker’s death in tank container results in $105,000 fine

Oakville company pleads guilty to having an inadequate written plan for work in confined spaces.


OAKVILLE, Ont. — A company that provides washing services for tankers was fined $105,000 following the death of a worker from asphyxiation.

Prokleen Washing Services Inc. in Oakville, Ont. provides washing services for trucks and trailers, petroleum tankers and fuel delivery trucks, highway tractors, chemical tankers, flatbeds, semi-trailers, light-duty trucks, refrigerated trucks and dump trucks.

The company plead guilty on Dec. 20, 2018 to a section of the Occupational Health and Safety Act that requires an employer to have a written plan in place that includes procedures for the control of hazards identified in anassessment, before any worker enters a confined space.

The Jan. 27, 2017 accident involved two workers at the company’s Oakville location washing a tank container that carried nitrogen .

Nitrogen displaces oxygen and can be an asphyxiation hazard in an enclosed space.

Neither worker was required to enter the tank to complete the wash. One of them briefly left the workplace and returned to find the other worker, described as experienced, unconscious in the tank.

Emergency medical services were called but the worker could not be revived.

The cause of death was determined by the coroner to be inert gas asphyxiation.

There were no eye witnesses to the incident.

The Ontario Ministry of Labour’s investigation found the company’s written plan did not adequately identify certain workplace hazards. In particular, an access point of a customer’s container was not equipped with signs warning of the oxygen-depleted atmosphere of the tank.

The court also imposed a 25% victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act.

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