Waste company fined $280K over signaller death at Ontario landfill

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Waste Management of Canada Corporation (WMCC) has been fined $280,000 following its guilty plea in relation to the death of a signaller contracted to direct dump trucks unloading soil at a landfill in Whitchurch-Stouffville, Ontario.

The fine was issued by the Ontario Court of Justice in Newmarket through the Occupational Health and Safety Act for failure to ensure required safety measures and procedures.

The fatality occurred on December 9, 2021, at the WMCC facility just northeast of Toronto, where the company had been working on proper grading to prevent surface water runoff and ponding on waste piles, as required under its permit.

According to a provincial court bulletin, WMCC hired Terra Nova Environmental Services Inc. to provide environmental remediation and project management at the landfill, which was previously a municipal waste dump in the Township of Whitchurch-Stouffville. 

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The Terra Nova signaller, who was not named in the court bulletin, “did not give verbal direction to the driver, instead they left their vehicle, walked up the hill towards the dump location and attempted to guide the driver to the proper location,” contrary to safety procedures, stated the bulletin.

The dump truck driver then reversed up the hill and fatally struck the signaller.

The November court bulletin indicates that WMCC failed to ensure that the signaller communicated with the truck driver by means of a telecommunication system or, where visual signals are clearly visible to the driver, by means of prearranged visual signals. The actions that took place were contrary to subsection 106(3) of Regulation 213/91, violating s. 25(1)(c) of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act.

An investigation by the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development determined that while WMCC had comprehensive safety procedures for the tipping face, and there was a contractual agreement that Terra Nova would oversee the project and ensure those procedures were followed, WMCC was also liable, as one of the employers, because it subcontracted the work.

The court also imposed a 25% victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act. The surcharge is credited to a special provincial government fund to assist victims of crime.

The court bulletin noted that charges were also brought against other companies involved in the incident, as well as the driver of the dump truck. Those cases are ongoing.

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