Seavale Incorporated pleaded guilty and has been fined $100,000 after a visitor to its self-storage facility in North Bay, Ont., fell through an open hole and was killed in the fall.
The site was originally part of the NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) defence system, and consisted of 28 silos designed to house Bomarc missiles. The silos were converted to self-storage units by Seavale.
One of the units was renovated in 2013 by installing a wooden floor over the original concrete basement. At the back of the unit, near the centre of the wall, an opening was left in the floor, measuring about four feet by nine feet nine inches. It was framed in anticipation of adding stairs to the basement in the future. On the date of the incident, the hole was not protected by any covering or guardrail.
On June 4, 2014, a visitor who was not an employee of Seavale came to the unit to examine a pick-up truck that was being stored there by the person renting the unit. The rear wheels of the truck were close to the unguarded opening in the floor, and the box of the truck partially extended over the opening.
As the visitor bent down to examine the truck's rear wheel, for reasons unknown, the visitor fell into the open hole. The fall was about six feet to the concrete floor. The visitor died as a result of the injuries.
The company pleaded guilty to failing as an employer to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstance for the protection of a worker, contrary to Section 25(2)(h) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act — that is, for failing to take the reasonable precaution of ensuring that a hole in the floor of a storage unit was protected by a guardrail or floor covering. (The OHSA applies because there were workers at the site who were exposed to the same hazard and the company is an "employer" as defined in the act.)
The company was fined $100,000 on Jan. 29. In addition to the fine, the court imposed a 25 per cent 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.
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