Blog Post #726 – Colortech Inc. Fined $80,000 After Worker Burned, Permanently Injured

Blog Post #726 – Colortech Inc. Fined $80,000 After Worker Burned, Permanently Injured

Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’

Colortech Inc., a manufacturer of colour-concentrated plastic additives, has pleaded guilty and has been fined $80,000 after a worker was severely burned and suffered permanent injuries.

On September 26, 2012, an employee was working at Colortech’s facility located at 8027 Dixie Road, Brampton. The worker was engaged on a production line of processing equipment used to mix, heat, form and cut plastic into small pellets.

At approximately 1 a.m., some of the heaters near the die on the line stopped operating. A plant electrician attended and repaired the wiring at 3:20 a.m. Elsewhere in the line, the heaters remained operational and the hot molten plastic caused a buildup of pressure and gases at the blocked die and screen changer.

As part of the procedure to re-start the line, the worker was required to change the screen in the screen changer. During this change, there was an unexpected release of pressure which resulted in the release of hot liquefied plastic, causing second degree burns to multiple part of the body. The worker also inhaled the hot gases, resulting in internal injuries.

The worker is not expected to recover or be able to return to work.

The production line’s screen changer was not equipped with a shield or guard to prevent workers from being injured by hot plastic or gasses; the Occupational Health and Safety Act requires that a machine be shielded or guarded so that the product or material being processed does not endanger the safety of any worker.

Colortech Inc. pleaded guilty and was fined $80,000 by Justice of the Peace Jeannie Anand in Brampton court. In addition to the fine, the court imposed a 25-per-cent victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act. The surcharge is credited to a special provincial government fund to assist victims of crime.

My opinion

The law(s) in contravention:

Colortech Inc. was found guilty of a contravention of section 26 of the Ontario ‘Industrial Establishments’ regulation 851/90 which states,

“A machine shall be shielded or guarded so that the product, material being processed or waste stock will not endanger the safety of any worker.”

Colortech Inc. was also found guilty of a contravention of section 25, subsection 1 (c) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) which states,

“An employer shall ensure that,

(c) The measures and procedures prescribed are carried out in the workplace.”

The poor worker! Why was there not a procedure to deal with the actual maintenance of the equipment and the heaters all turned off? Was a hazard assessment not completed on the equipment? If so, was all the associated hazards identified and proper controls put in place. I doubt it very much.

Colortech Inc. should have realized the concerns and had a set of SOPs set up discussing the possibilities and the supervisor, under section 25, subsection 2 (c) of the OHSA, must be deemed to be competent. That means that the supervisor MUST receive all the appropriate training to supervise the work being done. Just think, wouldn’t it have been great that the supervisor recognized the concerns while the electrician was completing the wiring changes? This type of ‘Due Diligence’ would have, or could have saved the worker from life-altering injuries.

Mind you, I bet the Ministry of Labour (MOL) has placed enough safeguards to ensure this does not happen again. I also wonder if other companies have read the original report and taken steps to ensure worker safety.

Not likely!

Remember – In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”

HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs including ‘Due Diligence’, ‘Machine Guarding’ and ‘Standard Operating Procedures’. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.

We can also be reached at info@hrsgroup.com

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Advanced Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.

Dan
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