TORONTO, Ont. — A failure to provide fall protection equipment and training has netted a supervisor of an Ontario garbage removal company 45 days in jail, while the company itself has been slapped with a $75,000 fine.
The Ministry of Labour announced the penalties against J.R. Contracting Property Services and its supervisor in March, after a worker fell from a roof and landed on a walkway, resulting in his paralysis. A Ministry investigation found the injured workers was not provided with fall protection equipment and hadn’t received training on its use.
The court found the supervisor “failed as a supervisor to ensure that a worker wore protective devices as required by law, and failed as a supervisor to take the reasonable precaution of ensuring that an adequate form of fall protection was provided where a worker is exposed to a fall hazard of more than three metres.”
So, what does this have to do with trucking? Plenty, according to Johnathan Sousa, who will be launching the Eagle Hook fall arrest system for trailer tops at Truck World in April. Sousa says the heavy-handed fine and jail sentence issued by the court shows the Ministry of Labour is cracking down on operators who don’t provide fall prevention equipment and training on its use. While it’s illegal to require an employee to climb atop a trailer roof, Sousa said this is commonplace in the industry for snow removal and repairs. He claims his Eagle Hook invention is the only fall prevention system designed for trailers, which allows a technician or driver a full range of motion while keeping them safely away from the trailer roof’s edge.
“It strikes me in the transportation industry, we really don’t take falls very seriously,” Sousa said. “The Eagle Hook is coming at a perfect time for companies to be able to take action against workplace injuries.”
The Eagle Hook was developed by Sousa’s father and has undergone several renditions over the past few years. The first units were placed into service at the family’s business, Sousa Truck Trailer Repair, where the younger Sousa said it was welcomed by mechanics.
“We’ve had it in our trucks for the past two years,” he said of Sousa Truck Trailer Repair. “It was made by mechanics for mechanics.”
Unlike fall arrest systems already on the market, Sousa said the patent-pending Eagle Hook is a fall ‘prevention’ system. It allows mechanics a full range of motion and keeps them from the edge of the trailer so they can’t possibly fall off. However, they can still reach the edge of the roof from their knees to conduct repairs.
The system retails for $2,350, and comes with an online training program so fleets can conduct and document operator training. With the Eagle Hook, mechanics can safely climb atop the trailer roof to conduct repairs and drivers can go up to remove snow and ice, Sousa said.
“It’s main purpose is to reduce downtime and to provide assurances that people can go up there knowing they’re going to be safe during the entire process,” Sousa said.
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