Workers Health & Safety Centre

Coroner's jury calls for certified equipment operator training

Coroner's jury calls for certified equipment operator training
A coroner’s inquest jury investigating the death of Windsor construction worker, Takis Escoto, has made six recommendations all directed at the Ontario Ministry of Labour (MOL), including mandatory certified training for heavy equipment operators.
Escoto, 34, died June 1, 2011 after being hit by a reversing front-end loader on a construction site in Windsor, Ontario. Escoto was part of crew installing new sewer and water main connections. Coroner’s inquests are mandatory in deaths at construction sites, mines, pits and quarries.
During three days of testimony, the jury heard that the driver of the front-end loader had no special training to operate the vehicle and was not assisted by a signal person when reversing. The jury also heard that Escoto was the 17th Ontario worker to die under similar circumstances in the last 14 years.
In his testimony, Escoto’s father, Ramiro, further suggested long workdays contributed to poor working conditions on the site. His son was finishing a 12-hour workday when he was struck and killed.

Jury recommendations include:
  • All heavy equipment operators require a certificate of formal training and refresher courses.
  • A signal person shall be required when any heavy equipment is operating in reverse for distances longer than the length of the machinery being used.
  • On job sites accessible to the public, a flag person should be present at all times.
  • Reverse speed should be mechanically governed on all heavy equipment machinery.
  • All heavy equipment machinery be required to have audio communication between the operator and the signal person available at all times.
  • The use of backup detection systems on larger scale equipment including ultrasonic, radar, camera and radio frequency identification technology.

While implementation of jury recommendations is not mandatory the MOL could use these to support new changes such as mandatory training standards for equipment operators. Employers have a general legal duty to provide information, instruction and training to workers. Under Ontario Regulation 213/91 for Construction Projects only competent persons can operate vehicles on construction projects.

Earlier this year Escoto’s employer, Coco Paving Inc., was fined $170,000 under the Occupational Health & Safety Act  for failing to ensure a vehicle was not operated in reverse when other practical alternatives were available (section 104 O.Reg 213/91).
Want to read the Verdict of the Coroner’s Jury?
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