Convicted: Otter Energy Inc., 206 Main Street, Suite 2H, Picton, Ontario.
Location of Workplace: 1623 St Andre, Embrun, Ontario.
Description of Offence: A worker employed by Otter Energy Inc. was fatally injured at the workplace while performing a task associated with the installation of solar panels at the workplace. Otter Energy Inc. failed as an employer to ensure that every reasonable precaution was taken to prevent hazards to workers from energized electrical equipment, installations and conductors. This is an offence under section 183 of O. Reg. 213/91, and section 25(1)(c) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
Date of Offence: August 10, 2020.
Date of Conviction: June 27, 2022.
- Following a joint guilty plea with the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) in Provincial Offences Court in L’Orignal, Otter Energy Inc. was fined $100,000. This is a total of two fines – $50,000 for the conviction under the Occupational Health and Safety Act and $50,000 for a related conviction under the Electricity Act – by Justice of the Peace Ginette Forgues; Crown Counsel Alicia Gordon-Fagan.
- 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.
- Otter Energy Inc. was engaged under contract to perform a solar panel retrofit.
- On August 4, 2020, when there were no solar panels installed on the roof and therefore, no energised conductors, the worker was assigned tasks associated with preparing the roof for the panels.
- Between August 4 and August 7, 2020, employees of Otter Energy Inc. installed the solar panels on the roof at the project.
- On the morning of the incident, employees of Otter Energy Inc. installed two CSA certified inverters on the roof at the project converting DC to alternating current (“AC”), which is required to connect it to the electricity grid. All solar panels are connected into the inverters.
- The brand of inverters used were not compatible with the MC4 connectors supplied with the solar panels.
- At 11:30 a.m. on the day of the incident, the worker was asked by the site supervisor to fabricate extension wires with MC4 connectors on one end and Amphenol connectors on the other so that the panels that were already installed on the roof would then connect with the inverters.
- At approximately 2:00 p.m. that day, the worker was working on the roof of the west side of the building. The site supervisor attended, just as the worker was in the process of cutting off and replacing the MC4 connector on the wires coming out of the solar panel. As the supervisor arrived, the worker was observed to lean on the metal roof frame, which was subsequently found, after investigation, to have been in contact with an exposed “pinched” wire at one of the solar panels in the 25-panel string. This undetected ground fault caused a significant current to flow through the worker who was suddenly electrocuted, and despite rescue efforts, suffered fatal injuries.
- Otter Energy Inc. failed as an employer, to ensure that every reasonable precaution was taken to prevent hazards to workers from energized electrical equipment, installations and conductors. This is an offence under section 183 of O. Reg. 213/91, and section 25(1)(c) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.