Ontario municipality fined $100K after HR failed to validate certification for newly hired water worker
The Town of Orangeville’s HR department is in the spotlight after it hired a water worker who falsely claimed to have a valid certification.
In 2019, following an advertisement for a Water Works Operator 1 position at the Ontario municipality, an applicant submitted a resumé for the position which stated they held a valid Operator in Training (OIT) certificate.
During screening, the town’s human resources department noted that the applicant’s resume specified they held OIT certification but could not be validated on the Ontario Water Wastewater Certification Office operator database. Despite this, the applicant was selected to progress through the interview process with no further follow-up.
Following two interviews and no questions about certification, the applicant was offered the operator position in late April 2019. No mention was made of a valid operator certification.
The new hire started employment with the Town of Orangeville and was assigned operating duties including flushing hydrants, hydrant and valve maintenance and repairs, taking chlorine residual samples, taking turbidity samples, collecting microbiological samples and chemical samples, adjusting chlorine analysers, acknowledging SCADA alarms, evaluating processes in the form of daily rounds or checks at the stations and well houses for each DWS. Specifically, the new hire completed approximately 698 hours of operator work at the Orangeville DWS.
The new hire was not asked to produce certification until the ministry inspection process was initiated, despite the town’s legal obligation to meet Section 15 of Ontario Regulation 128/04, which requires the Operating Authority to display in the workplace a copy of the certificate copy for every certified operator.
The employee did not hold a valid OIT certificate from October 1, 2018, through October 3, 2019.
The employee was issued a valid OIT certificate effective October 4, 2019.
Investigation by the ministry’s Environmental Investigations and Enforcement Branch resulted in charges and the convictions. The two convictions are for being the owner of a municipal drinking water system, and failing to exercise a level of care/diligence with respect to the system, that a reasonably prudent person would be expected to exercise and for operating a municipal drinking water system, without a valid operator’s certificate
The Corporation of the Town of Orangeville was convicted of two violations under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) and was fined $100,000, plus a victim fine surcharge of $25,000, with three months to pay.
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