Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine
An incident in which a laundry worker suffered head and forearm injuries has landed, a Winnipeg employer, penalties of almost $80,000.
On January 13, 2009, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA) pleaded guilty to one violation of Manitoba’s Workplace Safety and Health Regulation.
The WRHA failed to ensure that all machines in the workplace could safely perform their intended functions. More specifically, the authority did not have a metal hooper attachment on an LX445 Lavatec Washer-Extractor to prevent possible contact with moving parts.
Crown prosecutor Sean Brennan says the WRHA received a $65,000 fine, a $13,000 surcharge and a $50 court fee. The fine follows the worker’s injury on April 24, 2008. While working at aWRHA laundry facility, the man reached into an industrial washing machine to remove several mops that had not tipped onto an adjacent dryer-conveyor, says WRHA spokesperson Heidi Graham.
As the worker reached inside, “the large metal hopper – attached by hinges to the top of the washer – moved into its‘down’ position and pinned him between the hopper and the washer’s metal door opening,” Graham says. “The washer continued its programmed cycle of tilting upwards to accept the dirty laundry suspended in the bags overhead.”
Graham says the worker experienced “substantial soft-tissue injuries” to his left forearm and to the side of his head, and a cut to his ear that required stitches. He is receiving workers’ comp benefits.
After the incident, the WRHA’s management team and workplace safety coordinator convened a group to come up with improvements for the facility, which employs about 120 staff. The resulting plan – elements of which included developing an interim safe-work procedure, training employees and supervisors, installing a safety railing and relocating machine controls – was approved by Manitoba’s oh&s division and has since been implemented, Graham says.
“To add an additional level of protection, the WRHA also ensured that system and machine programming and electrical modifications were made by the manufacturer” and that “an electrical life safety field interlock and control was installed,” she says.
Entrainment is a common concern in the industrial washing and drying sector, says Ken Hughes, past president of the Atlantic Support Services Association, and current director of environmental services at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown. Hughes says that equipment guarding, automatic shut-offs and noise alerts for moving or tilting equipment are all important controls used at his hospital’s laundry facility.
I was pleased to see the amount of the fine. It was the largest fine for a non lethal injury I have seen outside the province of Ontario for quite a while. There is a lack of drive at the provincial level to deal with health and safety issues and I am pleased to see that the province of Manitoba has the pulse of the worker in their blood. It is necessary to ensure a safe work environment for all employees.
Remember — In Canada, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”
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‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.
Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP — Foundation Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.