High-pressure water device kills worker, $85,000 fine for Mississauga company

Convicted: 2132857 Ontario Ltd., 1860 Bonhill Road, Mississauga, Ontario, a company in the business of cleaning drains and catch basins using hydro-vacuum trucks.

Location of Workplace: A property located at 3333 Unity Drive, Mississauga, Ontario.

Description of Offence: A worker lost control of a high-pressure water jetting system and was killed after being hit by the water jet.

Date of Offence: August 26, 2017. At that time the company operated under a different name.

Date of Conviction: December 4, 2018. 4, 2018.

Penalty Imposed:

  • Following a guilty plea, the company was fined $85,000 by Justice of the Peace Helena Cassano in provincial offences court in Missisauga; Crown Counsel Judy L. Chan.
  • The court also 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.


  • The company was retained to clean the catch basins at a property located at 3333 Unity Drive in Mississauga. A catch basin is a pre-cast concrete basin placed in the ground to collect water runoff and is covered with a heavy steel grate. In addition to rain water, sediment will settle in the bottom and has to be cleaned out.
  • Hydro-vac trucks are equipped with a suction vacuum system for drawing the water and sediment out of a drain and with a high-pressure water jetting system used for breaking up the sediment and cleaning the drain. The vacuum and water jetting systems can be operated either from a panel on the side of the truck, or from a hand-held remote control.
  • The water jetting system consists of a tank of water and pump at the truck and a flexible hose/line from the water pump which ends in a straight spray wand. Water is drawn from the tank, through the hose, and the wand is lowered into the drain. When the system is activated, the wand expels water at a high rate of pressure (2,000 pounds per square inch) into the drain to break up debris.
  • On August 26, 2017, a worker who was an experienced operator was assisted by a helper and they cleaned a number of drains in the property’s east parking lot. 
  • The pair then drove to the north parking lot and started to work on a drain there. The experienced worker was operating a hand-held remote as well as the wand. At one point the worker held the flexible part of the hose in order to allow the wand to get into the deeper areas of the drain.
  • The worker lost control of the high-pressure water jetting system and dropped the hose. The water jet became uncontrolled as the hose flung around.
  • The worker was hit by the water jet in the neck and was pronounced dead at the scene.
  • The helper was also hit by the jet and received minor injuries.
  • An operator-controlled trigger to control the flow of water can be attached between the hose and the wand of a high pressure water jetting system. In such a configuration, the trigger must be continually squeezed for water to jet out. If the trigger is released, the water jet is immediately shut off. The spray wand of the high-pressure water jetting system being used by the worker was not equipped with an operator-controlled trigger.
  • Although the company purchased and made available operator-controlled triggers for its vehicles where requested by operators, there was no policy or instruction requiring workers to use the operator-controlled trigger attachment. Industry guidelines recommend the use of an operator-controlled trigger on the wands of high-pressure water jetting systems due to the hazards associated with uncontrolled water jets.
  • Section 25(2)(h) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) states that an employer shall take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker.  The company failed to take the reasonable precaution of ensuring that the high-pressure water jetting wand used by a worker to clean catch basins on August 26, 2017 was equipped with an operator-controlled trigger to control the flow of water, contrary to section 25(2)(h) of the OHSA. This is an offence pursuant to section 66(1) of the act.

  – Ministry of Labour