SUDBURY -- A hardware store in Chelmsford has been fined $55,000 for a 2018 incident in which an employee fell through a skylight while trying to clear the snow off of the roof of a building.

North West Lumber Co. Ltd., the operator of a Home Hardware Building Centre at 3299 Errington Ave. in Chelmsford, pleaded guilty to the Ministry of Labour charges in connection with the incident, which took place Feb. 27, 2018.

The incident took place in a shed where lumber and other supplies are stored. That winter, a large amount of snow accumulated on the roof, putting stress on support beams.

The company hired a third-party contractor to remove the snow load with help from employees. A few weeks later, they noticed another support beam was stressed, and a yard supervisor got together with two other workers to remove the snow.

"That morning, the three employees held a brief meeting to discuss the snow clearing work," said a news release Tuesday from the Ministry. "One of the topics was the presence of skylights on the shed roof. These were sheets of corrugated plastic, each two feet wide and seven feet long, mounted flush to the shingled roof surface."

The skylight was more than 17 feet above the floor of the shed. All three workers went on the roof, none them wearing fall protection equipment or guardrails around the roof's edge.

No fall protection equipment

"There had been no discussion of fall protection at the morning meeting and no fall protection equipment was provided to the workers," the release said.

After lunch, one of the workers returned to the roof of the shed and continued clearing snow. But the worker stepped on the skylight, broke through and fell to the ground below, suffering injuries.

The supervisor then went on the roof to finish clearing the snow and to measure the skylight opening and install a temporary cover. The supervisor was not wearing fall protection and the injured worker did not have training in working at heights.

The company was convicted for failing to ensure the measures relevant measure of the Occupational Health and Safety Act were followed.

"The regulation requires workers to use a safety belt or harness and lifeline when exposed to the hazard of falling more than three metres," the release said.

In addition to the fine, the court also imposed a 25-per-cent victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act. That goes into a special provincial government fund to assist victims of crime.