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Company fined $70K after trucker fell into vehicle service pit

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Canadian authorities fined an energy company tens of thousands of dollars for a trucker’s serious workplace injury.

On June 24, Ontario officials announced a fine of $70,000 for Sault Ste. Marie-based McDougall Energy Inc., doing business as Dowler-Karn. In addition to the $70,000 fine, the company has also been ordered to pay a 25 percent victim fine surcharge.

McDougall Energy Inc. pleaded guilty to violations of the Occupational Health and Safety Act that led to injuries for a truck driver.

The truck driver was severely injured on February 17, 2023, when he fell into a vehicle service pit at a site in St. Thomas, Ontario.

Officials detailed the events leading the fall and injury:

  • A truck driver was dispatched from Dowler-Karn’s Sarnia branch to deliver fuel, but their vehicle began experiencing mechanical problems due to ice build up on the brakes.
  • One of the company’s mobile technicians was sent to meet the driver and temporarily fixed the problem so the truck could make the delivery.
  • Following the delivery, the driver drove the truck to the company’s service shop in St. Thomas for further repairs.
  • The service shop has multiple work bays in which vehicles are repaired and maintained, including an in-ground vehicle service pit in work bay three. The pit is 70 feet long, 42 inches wide and 64 inches deep. At the time of the incident, the pit was not in use and did not have a barricade or technician monitoring it to prevent workers from falling in.
  • To complete the repair on the trailer, the truck and trailer were separated and the trailer was parked in work bay four, next to the bay with the pit.
  • The driver later came in to check on the progress of the repairs.
  • At that time, a senior technician was repairing an air leak in the upper safety rails on the top of the trailer and asked other workers to identify which rail was moving.
  • The truck driver tried to assist but had to take several steps backwards to see the top of the trailer and accidently fell four and half feet into the adjacent vehicle service pit.

Officials say that McDougall Energy Inc. failed in their duty to protect workers from falling into an in-ground vehicle service pit.

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