A property maintenance business plead guilty and was fined $75,000 for failing to protect their workers from exposure to carbon monoxide gas while power washing an underground parking garage.
Ground Maintenance Cleaning Contractors Inc. (“GMCC”), was hired to power wash the underground garage. The workers were using gasoline powered washers known to emit carbon monoxide (CO) gas to complete the work. During the work, the workers noticed that the internal exhaust fans in the garage stopped working. The workers continued to complete power washing without the internal exhaust fans and used portable fans. The building superintendent had advised GMCC that an electrician had been called to repair the internal exhaust fan system.
One of the workers left the garage and proceeded to immediately collapse on the sidewalk. The worker was sent to the hospital and died as a result of carbon monoxide toxicity. All of the other workers were also taken to the hospital for carbon monoxide exposure and related injuries. None of the other workers suffered any lasting health impacts as a result of the exposure.
The Ministry of Labour investigation concluded that neither the work crew nor the supervisor had received appropriate training on the hazards associated with exposure to carbon monoxide. Employers are required to take measures to limit the exposure of workers to hazardous biological or chemical agents including carbon monoxide. The appropriate exposure levels are set out in Ontario Regulation 833.
GMCC pled guilty to failing to limit the exposure of workers to carbon monoxide as prescribed by the regulation.