Tank truck manufacturer and director fined a combined $680,000 after workers fatally injured

April 25, 2024

[Canada] Following a guilty plea in the Ontario Court of Justice in Ottawa, Eastway Tank, Pump and Meter Limited has been fined $600,000, while company director Neil Greene was fined $80,000, over the death of six workers in an explosion which occurred in January 2022.

Eastway Tank, Pump and Meter Limited was found to have failed to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of workers, contrary to section 25(2)(h) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The company also failed to provide adequate information, instruction, and supervision to workers to protect their health and safety, contrary to section 25(2)(a) of the Act. Neil Greene failed to take all reasonable care to ensure that the corporation complied with section 25(2)(h) of the Act, contrary to section 32 of the Act. The Court also imposed a 25% victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act.

The Court heard how, on 13 January 2022, workers inside the company’s fabrication shop performed a wet test on a newly built tank truck to check for leakage. This entailed running diesel test fuel through different compartments of the tank and other truck components.

This was a routine operation at the workplace. Workers knew never to use gasoline and the company had a standard operating procedure that prohibited gasoline, or any tanker truck containing gasoline, from entering the fabrication shop. The diesel test fuel was stored in a tank outdoors.

The day before, another worker had used the diesel test fuel to wet test a different newly built tank truck outdoors. They left the diesel test fuel in the truck to calibrate the diesel meter. At some point, more fuel was added to the truck.

On 13 January, a worker pumped the diesel test fuel from the truck outside into the truck in the fabrication shop. That afternoon, flammable liquid vapours in the vicinity of the truck in the shop ignited, causing one explosion followed by a second larger explosion. Seven workers were injured, six fatally and one critically, as a result.

Following the explosions and fire, several fuel storage tanks at the workplace were tested for contamination. Gasoline was identified as a contaminant in several tanks of diesel, and diesel was identified as a contaminant in a tank of gasoline.

An Ontario Fire Marshall investigation found that the gasoline involved in the explosion was the result of contaminated diesel test fuel being used in the wet test. The diesel test fuel from the outdoor storage tank was contaminated with gasoline, and it was increasingly contaminated by gasoline when it was transferred to the outdoor tank truck. These two sources of gasoline cross-contaminated sufficiently to cause the explosions.

The company and its director failed to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect the health and safety of workers by failing to ensure that diesel fuel to be used for the wet testing of trucks was not contaminated with gasoline or any other flammable liquid or substance.

The company also failed to provide adequate information, instruction, and supervision to workers on safe fuel storage and handling procedures to protect the workers from the hazard of diesel fuel, used for the wet testing of trucks, from becoming contaminated with gasoline.

This is valid as of the 25th April 2024.

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