Blog Post #1396 – COVID-19 Outbreak results in $125,000 Fine for Norfolk County Company

Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’

Scotlynn Sweetpac Growers Inc., a farming operation in the municipality of Norfolk County, failed to isolate workers after a COVID-19 outbreak.

On May 28, 2020, the first positive case of COVID-19 at Scotlynn Sweetpac Growers Inc. was identified.

The following day, Haldimand Norfolk Health Unit declared an outbreak at the workplace. It declared an outbreak because two or more cases were identified within a 14-day period and it was reasonable to assume those people were also infected in the workplace.

On May 29 and 30, the District Health Unit conducted more testing, which revealed a total of 196 positive cases of COVID-19 among the 216 agricultural workers on the farm.

Although most of those who tested positive were asymptomatic, three agricultural workers needed to be hospitalized. Of the three workers who were hospitalized, one worker died as a result of the virus.

Before being hospitalized, the deceased worker was bedridden for several days in the bunkhouse where they lived with other workers. They had symptoms that were typical of COVID-19, but they were not isolated. Bunkhouses housed anywhere from eight to approximately 50 workers.

Following a guilty plea in the Ontario Court of Justice in Simcoe, Ontario Scotlynn Sweetpac Growers Inc. was fined $125,000 by Justice Gethin Edward; Crown Counsels Indira Stewart, Neil Dietrich and Madeleine Chin-Yee.

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:

Scotlynn Growers Inc. was found guilty of a contravention of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), section 25, subsection 2(h) which states,

“An employer shall,

(h)   Take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of the worker.”

This is one of a few sections that is used most of the time by the Ministry of Labour (MOL).

Too bad the company did not feel protecting their employees came first. It would have gone a long way in preventing the disease spreading and killing one of the workers.

The fine seems in line with the criminal act.

HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs including ‘Due Diligence’ 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 

Ensure your workplace is a safe place.

Remember – In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

Daniel L. Beal

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

 

 

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