Enforcement in September 2017
Input from Ruth White, Jimena Murillo, Deidre Perquy, Elise Saade, Tjeerd Hendel-Blackford, Michael George Pantelides and Karolina Wrzecionkowska
Enhesa keeps an eye on regulatory enforcement actions around the globe, which can range in magnitude and severity – but all add up. Here are just some examples of the many enforcement cases that occurred around the world in the past month of September…
Canada - Saskatchewan
1. Company fined CAD 100,000 following failure of to develop and implement a traffic control plan to protect the worker from traffic hazards resulting in the serious injury of a worker, in violation of the Saskatchewan Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, 1996.
2. On 19 and 20 September 2017, two Saskatchewan-based companies were fined for separate violations of the Saskatchewan Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Regulations. As a result, the companies in question had to pay fines of of CAD 39,200 (USD 30,848) and CAD 2,100 (approx. USD 1,652) respectively.
The first case involved a failure to ensure that each wheel on a rolling scaffold was equipped with a device to securely attach the wheel to the scaffold. This resulted in a worker falling from the scaffolding and suffering a serious injury.
In the second, unrelated, case, a company pleaded guilty to failing to notify the authorities as soon as is reasonably possible of every accident at a place of employment that required a worker to be admitted to hospital as an in-patient for a period of 72 hours or more. These charges were laid after an Occupational Health Officer learned about an injured worker through a Workers’ Compensation Report, after a reasonable period of time had elapsed, as per the Regulations.
3. A transport company was fined CAD 84,000 (approx. USD 66,112) for violating The Occupational Health and Safety Act, 1993. More specifically, the company were charged with failing to ensure that the activities of the workers at a workplace do not negatively affect the health, safety or welfare at work of the employer, other workers or any self-employed person at the place of employment, resulting in the death of a worker. As a result of an incident that took place on 27 July 2015, a worker died after being run over by a flatbed truck that was being pushed by a bulldozer.
1. Following the death of a kiwi-farm worker in a quadbike accident, there was a key ruling whereby an “enforceable undertaking” was accepted as an alternative to prosecution, because of the level of the company’s direct involvement in a fatal accident, and the remedial/mitigatory measures it took following the accident.
The enforceable undertakings would have a cost of at least NZD 249,500 (approx. USD 171,855) and involved a number of measure, including:
- Complete ongoing accredited health and safety management training for all senior and industry-facing managers;
- Develop a program for overseeing contractors’ activities with service providers who contract directly with the company.
- Require annual audits of orchard mapping and induction processes for entities with whom the company contracts directly for on-orchard activities.
- Engage an external auditor to review its contracting management protocols, including orchard mapping and induction processes.
- Initiate information campaigns relation to health and safety.
- Fund industry wide research for high hazard areas of the industry and into a safety issue relevant to the industry.
2. A forklift driver was exposed to hydrogen sulphide gas, leading to a loss of consciousness amongst other things. This was the second time the company was found to have breached H&S law. The company in question incurred a fine of NZD 380,000 (approx. USD 261,755) and had to pay NZD 18,000 (approx. USD 12,398) in damages.
The company’s previous actions revealed that workers weren’t trained well enough to handle emergency circumstances. The previous fine was NZD 73,000 (approx. USD 50,269).
1. As a result of Clean Air Act violations a company in West Virginia received a civil penalty of USD 975,000, but was also required to carry out supplemental environmental projects at an estimated cost of USD 3.05 million. The violation concerned a failure to prevent an accidental release arising from of a 2008 explosion.
2. American Samoa: Proposed consent decree requires seafood processing and canning company to perform injunctive relief, pay USD 6.3 million civil penalty, and perform a Supplemental Environmental Project benefitting local first responders. Proposed decree concerned violations of multiple Environmental Acts, including the following:
- Unpermitted discharges of wastewater through an outfall rupture in;
- Violations of terms and conditions of the facility's National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit, including effluent limit violations;
- Violations of the CWA's Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasures regulations related to the facility's oil storage Tanks; and
- Violations of the Clean Air Act related to the handling of ammonia, butane, and chlorine.
The injunctive relief includes:
- Installing and operating upgrades to the facility's wastewater treatment system;
- Upgrading the facility's oil storage tanks;
- Making improvements to the facility's ammonia refrigeration system to prevent and minimize potential releases;
- Discontinuing use of chlorine gas and a butane filling station at the facility; and
- Implementing an environmental management system for the facility; and performing annual third-party compliance audits.
The Supplemental Environmental Project requires defendants to purchase and donate certain emergency response equipment to the American Samoa Fire Department.
3. Oil Company in violation of Clean Water Act and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act Violations, incurs civil penalty of USD 24,000. Injunctive relief also sought with supplemental environmental project: violator to install advanced technology to improve leak detection that exceeded the minimum standards set forth in the applicable regulations
1. A glass production company had to pay a EUR 12,000 (approx. USD 14,270) fine for not complying with workplace health and safety regulations, after a worker got her hand stuck in a machine and broke her middle finger in different places and had to be hospitalized for nine days. The company had already received a warning for the danger and did not take precautionary measures to prevent the dangers.
The moving parts of the work equipment that posed a danger were not provided with such screens or security devices that the danger could be avoided as much as possible. The shafts of the axes at the operating locations were not fitted with screens or other safety equipment.
2. Waste management company fined EUR 10,000 (approx. USD 11,893) for operating in intentional violation of its environmental permit.
Following a ventilation failure in 2015, employees failed to re-launch an essential part of the smoke gas cleaning system. This resulted in emissions of heavy metals and dioxins exceeding permitted limits for over twelve hours. The court judged that the company failed to take precautionary measures and to control the ventilation system.
In addition, just under one year later, following another ventilation system failure, emissions were again too high for several hours. The company was obliged to inform the competent authority of this incident immediately. However, the company only notified the authorities after 1 hour and 22 minutes. The court found that the company could have informed the authority much more quickly and therefore intentionally acted in violation of the Act on Environmental Management.
1. The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources fined a mining company RD$ 7.6 million (approx. USD 1.4 million) for environmental damage caused after a spill from one of its oil pipelines. The Ministry also order the closure of the pipeline until the company takes the respective corrective measures. The company had not complied with the Regulation on the Management of Chemical Substances that requires the implementation of a Plan for the Prevention and Control of Spills and Leaks. The company also contaminated soil with hydrocarbons and did not provide information about the risk associated with the material transported by its pipelines.
1. Twelve people received prison sentences of up to nine years for their involvement in a carbon trading scam, which involved money-laundering and VAT-fraud.
1. A waste collection and recycling company was fined GBP 500,000 (approx. USD 673,580) and its director threatened with jail after an employee sustained multiple injuries when he was hit by a reversing telehandler. He was struck while crossing the work yard at the company’s recycling site and later died in hospital.