Grocer convicted and fined where young worker fell through drop ceiling and died

The Ontario Ministry of Labour has long been concerned with safety of young workers. The courts recently handed down a significant fine in the death of a young worker.

Metro Ontario Inc., a retail grocer, was fined $350,000 after a young worker in its Mississauga store fell to his death through a drop ceiling. The worker had been helping the assistant store manager clear materials from the top of a cooler beside which was a drop ceiling made up of acoustic tiles. The drop ceiling was accessible from the top of the cooler but it was not meant to be weight bearing.

The assistant store manager indicated that a box needed to be removed from on top of the drop ceiling. The young worker stepped onto the drop ceiling to remove the box and fell through. He died of head injuries.

The company pleaded guilty to failing to ensure that a guardrail was in place to prevent workers from accessing the drop ceiling.

From May 1, to August 31, 2010, the Ontario Ministry of Labour conducted a blitz focusing on the health and safety of new and young workers at construction, industrial and health care workplaces. A primary finding of the blitz was lack of training of young workers. Ministry of Labour inspectors issued 3,586 compliance orders during the blitz. The Ministry of Labour’s report on the results of the blitz can be read at:

http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/hs/sawo/blitzes/blitz_report20.php.