Blog Post #363 – Sifto Canada Corp. Fined $140,000 after Worker Killed

Excerpt from the Government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’

Sifto Canada Corp., operator of a Goderich salt mine, was fined $140,000 for a violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act after a worker was killed.

In addition to an underground mine, Sifto’s Goderich property contains large domes in which salt is stored before being loaded onto ships or railcars. There are open grates in the floors of the storage domes. These allow the salt to flow down onto conveyors leading to the loading area.

On August 25, 2009, a worker was using an excavator to move salt within a dome. The excavator broke down and a maintenance person was called for repairs. While waiting for the repair person, the worker exited the cab of the excavator and began clearing salt from the machine. At this time, the conveyor under the dome started moving and salt began falling through the grate in the floor of the dome. The worker was pulled through the grate with the moving salt and asphyxiated.

Sifto Canada Corp. pleaded guilty to failing, as an employer, to ensure that the grate in the bottom of the dome was guarded to prevent a worker from being drawn in.

The fine was imposed by Justice of the Peace Robert Seneshen. 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:

Sifto Canada Corporation was found guilty of a contravention of section 59 (1) of the Ontario ‘Mine and Mining Plants’regulation 854/90 which states,

“All openings, sumps, vessels, bins, hoppers, elevated platforms or pits, other than grease pits, which constitute a hazard, shall be fenced or otherwise guarded.”

This is another example of a company not having safe work practices when dealing with a production issue or, in this case, a maintenance concern. The procedure for a breakdown should have included a lockout of the conveyor when there was a chance that a worker could have been drawn in. It does not matter if the company has not considered this as there was a regulation covering this. In otherwords, the MOL, and the government of Ontario, had already decided that the issue should be addressed in the regulations and the workers protected.

Sifto should have had a proper H&S Coordinator that was well versed in the mining regulation for Ontario. (regulation 854) It sounds to me that they may have hired the wrong people, OR, the company did not heed the coordinator’s recommendations. Either way, the company was at fault and was levied a fine that was appropriate to the severity of the accident.

If your company does not have a H&S coordinator that has a vast background to deal with H&S issues, then I recommend someone with one or more of the three designations,

1) CRSP – Canadian Registered Safety Professional
2) CHSC – Certified Health and Safety Consultant
3) CHSEP– Certified in Health and Safety Environmental Processes

We are out there and can be a distinct advantage to your company. Give us a call.

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 ‘Machine Guarding’ and ‘Safe 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 – Foundation Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRSGroup Inc.

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