Blog Post #1119 – Worker Killed on Cheese Production Line in Trenton, Company Fined $150,000

Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’

A worker was killed, on December 15, 2016, by a cheese-cutter machine at the Saputo’s cheese production facility at 7 Riverside Drive, Trenton, Ontario. The device should have had a guard to prevent access to the cutter’s pinch point.

A worker was assigned to work as a drier operator in the Parmesan department and was experienced in this area, having worked there for a number of years. In this task the worker was alone, loading and emptying the drier with various cheese blocks.

For the most part, this job requires placing full uncut 19-kilogram blocks of uncut cheese onto the drier conveyor to be placed in the drier. Occasionally the task requires cutting some of those 19-kg blocks into smaller pieces. Cutting is done with a large manually operated rocker knife.

Workers have reported that the rocker knife was often difficult to use and took considerable effort to cut some blocks of cheese. As a result, one of the supervisors indicated to workers that they could use a machine called the 640 cutter, located nearby. This machine consists of a conveyor upon which 640-pound blocks of cheese are cut.

Blocks are placed on the conveyor where the cheese is cut horizontally, then through a guillotine-style cutter to further cut the blocks vertically. Although the employer took the position that the 640 cutter was only to be used for those large blocks of cheese, it appears to have been common practice to use it to also cut the 19-kg blocks of parmesan.

The guillotine-style vertical cutter of the 640 consists of a lower stationary bar and a moving upper bar. This bar drops at the rate of 2 inches every second, taking 17 seconds to lower completely. At its lowest point, there is clearance of 2.5 inches between the bars. There is no guard at this obvious pinch point, and no automated lockout or light curtain barrier to prevent access to the pinch point.

On December 15, 2016, the worker was found deceased by other workers in the closed pinch point of the 640 cutters. There were no witnesses to explain how the worker would come to be in that position. The worker was found kneeling on the end of the conveyor belt with hands on either side of the framework. Using the 640 cutters for 19-kg blocks of parmesan would not require the worker to be in that position, and where the worker was found would have provided no advantage to machine use.

Following a guilty plea, Saputo Dairy Products Canada GP was fined $150,000 by Justice of the Peace Paul R. Currie in Belleville court; Crown Counsel David McCaskill.

The court also 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:

Saputo Dairy Products Canada was found guilty of a contravention of the Ontario ‘Industrial’ regulation 851/90, section 25 which states,

“An in-running nip hazard or any part of a machine, device or thing that may endanger the safety of any worker shall be equipped with and guarded by a guard or other device that prevents access to the pinch point.”

This was in direct contravention of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act, section 25, subsection 1(c) which states,

“An employer shall ensure that,

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

The ‘Industrial’ sector is going to receive a visit from the Ministry of Labour’s inspectors as they are completing a Safety Blitz on ‘Industrial’ Machine Guarding. Please ensure your company is in full compliance.

Ensure your workplace is a safe place.

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 

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

Daniel L. Beal

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



Leave a Comment