The Hamilton railcar maker, where three workers have died on the job in two years, also faces separate charges for two incidents of “serious bodily injury,” according to court documents.
The company has come under increasing scrutiny since welder Quoc Le, 51, died on the job on Monday after a 2,000-pound metal bulkhead fell at the Kenilworth Avenue factory North.
His death – and two others in the workplace since September 2020 – prompted the United Steel Workers to call for a police investigation into possible criminal negligence. The company called the union allegation “irresponsible” and said it was “committed to ensuring the health and safety of all of its employees”.
The railcar builder is already in court to face provincial occupational health and safety charges stemming from the workplace deaths of crane operator Fraser Cowan in September 2020 and painter Collin Grayley in April 2021.
But the Spectator also confirmed that National Steel Car is facing separate charges related to two incidents that each resulted in what the Department of Labor called an “alleged serious injury.”
The company did not respond to questions about the serious injury claims on Thursday or Friday.
The province defines a “critical injury” as an injury that is life-threatening or serious in nature. Examples include loss of consciousness, extensive burns, severe blood loss, a broken or amputated leg or arm, and loss of sight in one eye.
Ongoing court cases regarding the alleged serious injuries include:
- Two occupational health and safety charges alleging National Steel Car failed to provide required safe lifting measures and provide instruction or supervision to workers during an unspecified incident on March 15, 2021 The next court date for the case is June 23.
- Three occupational health and safety charges related to an unspecified incident on August 4, 2019. A supervisor is also separately named and faces two charges. A preliminary judicial hearing is scheduled for July 14.
Few details are available in court documents about the circumstances leading to the alleged charges or injuries.
The alleged incident in March, however, involved a worker assisting a crane operator to “rig” materials. The Metalworkers’ Union said it believed the incident resulted in a worker breaking a foot or leg.
The August 2019 charges include allegations that the employer failed to provide information or instructions about working near an open pit mine, as well as failing to inform a worker or a supervisor responsible for a worker of workplace hazards. The court documents do not contain details of the injuries.
But the “hazard” mentioned in the document is associated with the railcar manufacturer’s “blasting” area, where railcars are blasted or cleaned with a high-speed jet of tiny particles of metal shot.
The union argued that provincial health and safety fees are not enough.
He wants police to investigate whether criminal liability can be established on the company’s part under changes to the Criminal Code – commonly known as the Westray Act – designed to deal with serious injuries or fatalities on the job.
A statement from Labor Minister Monte McNaughton’s office notes that the province has issued 78 company orders or demands since June 2021 – but the department will not reveal the details of those orders.