Blog Post #1521 – Workplace Injury Results in $90,000 Fine for Elmira Company

Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’

A worker, employed by Elmira Pet Products Ltd., of Elmira, Ontario was critically injured from a fall, while cleaning a pet food manufacturing plant. Contrary to safety procedures, Elmira Pet Products Ltd. failed, as an employer, to ensure a worker was protected by means of a guardrail system or protective coverings as outlined in the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

On June 28, 2022, a contract worker with an industrial sanitation service, contracted by Elmira Pet Products Ltd. to provide cleaning services at the manufacturing plant, was assigned to clean an area in the interstitial space. The interstitial space is between two floors, is about six feet high, has five access hatches and contains mainly wiring and piping.

The worker was instructed by their employer to access the interstitial space by descending one of the hatches located on the second floor. This hatch was equipped with a guardrail and gate.

The worker had to crawl through the floor space over pipes and cableways to arrive at the assigned cleaning location, which was near one of the other hatches. This hatch had no guardrail around it, nor protective covering on top of it. It was normally accessed from below using a sky jack.

While the worker was cleaning the area, they stepped backwards, and their foot landed on the hatch. Their weight caused the hatch to shift like a revolving door. As a result, the worker fell approximately 18 feet, sustaining critical injuries.

Following the accident, Elmira Pet Products undertook immediate steps to secure the hatch and installed a guardrail to prevent any further accidents. It also implemented a written procedure for safe entry and exit to interstitial locations within the plant.

Following a guilty plea in the Ontario Court of Justice, Kitchener, Elmira Pet Products Ltd. was fined $90,000 by Justice of the Peace Ralph Cotter. Crown Counsel was Katie Krafchick.

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:

Elmira Pet Products was found guilty of a contravention of the Ontario ‘Industrial Establishments’ regulation 851/90, section 13, subsection 1 which states,

“There shall be a guardrail,

(a) around the perimeter of an uncovered opening in a floor, roof or other surface to which a worker has access,

(b) at an open side of,

(i) a raised floor, mezzanine, balcony, gallery, landing, platform, walkway, stile, ramp or other surface, or

(ii) a vat, bin or tank, the top of which is less than 107 centimetres above the surrounding floor, ground, platform or other surface; and

(c) around a machine, electrical installation, place or thing that is likely to endanger the safety of any worker.”

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

“An employer shall ensure that,

(a)  the equipment, materials and protective devices as prescribed are provided;

(b)  the equipment, materials and protective devices provided by the employer are maintained in good condition;

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

The law is very specific here. Fall Protection is a full-time control in any workplace, and it seems the Elmira Pet Products company did not receive the memo or read the appropriate legislation in the Greenbook.

Maybe they felt that their contractor should have known better.

Either way, a worker was injured from a fall and that is unacceptable!

HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs including “Fall Protection” or “Working at Heights”.

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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