Excerpt from the Government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’
Clarksburg-based Golden Town Apple Products was fined $75,000 on March 12, 2010 for a violation of the Occupational Health & Safety Act (OHSA) after a worker was hurt.
On May 9, 2008, a worker at eh company’s plant was flushing a production line with a sodium hydroxide solution. The worker carried the pail of the solution toward a tank to be cleaned. While lifting the pail to dump the solution into the tank, the worker’s hand slipped, the pail swung forward and the solution splashed into the worker’s eyes, causing permanent eye damage.
Golden Town Apple Products pleaded guilty under the ACT of failing, as an employer, to ensure that the pail of sodium hydroxide solution was lifted, carried or moved in a way and with safeguards to protect the worker’s safety. A 25% victim fine surcharge was required by the Provincial Offences Act which goes to a special government fund to assist victims of crime.
The company was in violation of the Industrial Regulations 851, section 45 (a) which reads,
Material, articles or things,
(a) required to be lifted, carried or moved, shall be lifted, carried or moved in such a way and with such precautions and safeguards, including protective clothing, guards or other precautions as will ensure that the lifting, carrying or moving of the material, articles or things does not endanger the safety of any worker.
When dealing with Sodium Hydroxide there are many things to consider,
1) It is poisonous, dangerous and corrosive. It may be fatal if swallowed. Causes burns to any area of contact. It reacts with water, acids and other materials.
2) Lab protection equipment includes goggles and shields, lab coat and apron and proper gloves.
Potential health effects are:
1) Inhalation — effects may vary from mild irritation to serious damage to the upper respiratory tract
2) Skin Contact — It is a corrosive and any contact with skin can cause irritation or severe burns and scarring with greater exposures
3) Eye Contact — it is a corrosive and causes irritation of the eyes. Greater exposure can lead to serious damage that may lead to permanent impairment of vision, even blindness
The following of the handling instructions from the appropriate MSDS for sodium hydroxide would have given the company a proper game plan to deal with the handling of the product. All Golden Town Apple Products needed to do was to follow the instructions as required under the WHMIS regulations (Workplace Hazardous Material Information System) and the accident would have been avoided or the damage to the employee reduced or eliminated.
Either way, they were in violation of section 25, (2h) “To take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of the worker.”
Remember — In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”
‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.
Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Foundation Level
VP & Senior Trainer