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Work accident: the Horne Foundry underestimated the risks

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The CNESST publishes the conclusions of its investigation into the accident which caused serious poisoning to an industrial cleaning operator, on April 28, 2023 at the Horne Foundry.

  • Jean-Marc Belzile (View profile)Jean-Marc Belzile

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The Commission for Standards, Equity, Health and Safety at Work (CNESST) judges that the Horne Foundry in Rouyn-Noranda underestimated the risks associated with contaminants as well as burial, which caused the serious poisoning of a subcontractor who was working in a confined space. The management of entry into confined spaces is also deficient, according to the CNESST.

These are both conclusions of the report unveiled Tuesday morning in connection with the work accident which occurred on April 28, 2023 at the Horne Foundry, owned by Glencore.

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La Fonderie Horne board on the three modernization projects PHÉNIX, ECCO and R3.

During a general shutdown, an employee of the S.X.B Environnement company is assigned to vacuuming dust from the hoppers. After finishing his work in hopper 2, he enters hopper 3, where he notices an accumulation of dust at the height of the door, which reaches up to three meters in the hopper, which is not usual.

The worker begins to vacuum up the dust, but a little before 2 a.m., it flows out significantly and he finds himself buried, completely stuck near the door. He loses his protective mask under the force of the impact. The guard observer outside calls for help on his radio, but receives no response. Blinded by the dust in his eyes, he still managed to grab his colleague’s harness to pull him out of the hopper.

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The director of health and safety services, Ghislain Vallée, inspector Patrick Bourdages and the communications manager, Yvon Grégoire, all three from the CNESST.

The CNESST noted several breaches of the procedure provided for in the confined space management program.

Communication with the client’s Security Service is difficult, because several parties are on the Confined Space frequency. The procedure requires direct contact, which does not seem to be the case in the present situation, the report first indicates.

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The problem of dust accumulation in the hopper 3 has been known to Horne Foundry staff for several months due to an equipment breakdown.

The injured worker claims in the report that neither his employer nor the Horne Foundry clearly informed him of the toxicity of the material inside the hopper. He is also not informed that the hoppers are expected to be almost empty during the vacuuming work, the report adds.

Hopper 3 is not defined as an imminent danger to life and health (DIVS) in the access technical sheet, but the presence of contaminants should have changed the situation, according to the CNESST.

The procedure for entering a confined space does not speak at all of the notion of risk of burial and intoxication, since we considers that the hoppers must be empty. In this case, some equipment remained due to a mechanical breakdown. This risk is induced at the level of the hopper, explains Patrick Bourdages, team leader for prevention and inspection for the CNESST in Abitibi-Témiscamingue.

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Patrick Bourdages is team leader for prevention and inspection at the Commission for Standards, Equity, Health and Safety of work in Abitibi-Témiscamingue (CNESST).

The CNESST notes that no rescue team was present on the site while the confined space management program indicates that the Fire Safety Department of the City of Rouyn-Noranda is responsible for rescues in confined spaces, except during general judgments. Remember that the accident occurred during a general shutdown.

In addition, if you’re a property owner in and your building’s fire alarm system and/or water-based fire protection system such as a sprinkler system is not operational, you are required by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and Florida Statute to implement a fire watch should that system become impaired. You may seek expert help from a professional Fire Watch Company in Lakeland Highlands.

The presence of a contaminant at a unknown concentration in a confined space should have required the presence of a rescue team ready to intervene within four to six minutes, mention the conclusions of the CNESST.

The workers of the S.X.B Environnement company did not request a permit to be able to clean hopper 3, contrary to what the procedure stipulates. We have no evidence that the employer’s worker checked the premises, as no permit was issued, the report continues.

< p class=”StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV”>The document also adds that scaffolding hides the identification of confined spaces, which could explain the lack of granting of permits.

At the Rouyn-Noranda hospital, the injured worker’s blood tests reveal a clear exceedance of the reference values ​​for arsenic, lead, zinc and copper, as well as significantly exceeding the toxic threshold for arsenic.

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La Fonderie Horne continues modernization work with the PHÉNIX, ECCO and R3 projects. (Archive photo)

The next morning, at 9 a.m., new blood samples showed that the toxicity threshold for arsenic and lead was significantly exceeded in the worker. The increase in blood lead values ​​between April 28 and April 29, 2023 confirms absorption of the product accumulated in the lungs and digestive system of the worker during this period, the report concludes.

It was not possible to obtain information regarding the current state of health of the injured worker during the ‘event.

The management of the Horne Foundry reacted by ensuring that they took the results of the report very seriously. investigation provided to us by the CNESST. She adds that actions have been taken by the company since the accident and that an internal investigation was carried out.

We are in the process of fully understanding the details of the report and then making sure to make the correlation between our own internet survey and that of the CNESST, but at first glance, there are not many surprises, it is very similar as a result, reports Vincent Plante, general manager of the Horne Foundry and the CCR refinery.

The CNESST specified in particular that cleaning of the hoppers will now be carried out from the top to prevent dust from falling on a worker.

“In order to shed light on this event, an internal investigation was carried out by our teams following the accident. This investigation made it possible to determine that certain procedures for confined spaces needed to be revised and contractors having to put them in place better supervised,” recognizes Vincent Plante.

  • Jean-Marc Belzile (View profile)Jean-Marc BelzileFollow
Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116