Blog Post #479 – Machine Device Raises Concern

Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine

Missing or ineffective safety mechanisms on a rock crusher are being cited as having contributed to the death of a worker at an Ontario stone quarry.

A coroner’s inquest, held in late June, explored circumstances surrounding the death of Roger Hill, 45, on January 21, 2008. Hill sustained fatal injuries when he became trapped in a rock crusher at the Ridgemount Quarries site in Fort Erie, Ontario.

The quarry is owned by Walker Industries in Thorold, Ontario, which had a contract with now-defunct Hard Rock Group of Companies (Hill’s employer) to set up a portable crushing plant, notes the verdict of the coroner’s jury.

Coroner’s counsel Graeme Leach says that shortly before the deadly incident, a rotor weighing several tonnes — with outer bars capable of spinning at high speed — stopped working. Hill and two co-workers took turns trying to get the unit going again, Leach says.

“The clutch re-engaged. There was conflicting evidence on how that happened, but Mr. Hill, the deceased, and the supervisor were still in the impactor chamber when it re-energized,” he adds.

Leach says that several factors contributed to the incident:

lockout and tagout procedures were not followed; the engine in the impactor chamber was left running; the crusher’s limit switch (which should automatically stop fuel flow to the engine) was inoperable; and the failure to have a “safety bar” available.

The bar is positioned between rotor bars to prevent spinning, he explains. The company owns two impactors, but only one bar. That meant “the bar would be shared between the two and the bar was off site on the day of the incident.”

Jerry Raso, the lawyer representing Hill’s union, Local 837 of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, charges that the limit switch and two emergency stop buttons had been “rewired to keep the machine going.”

The diesel engine did not have a lockout box to shut down the crusher, Raso contends, charging that concerns had been raised over supervision and training. “This went beyond the actions of those few workers,” he says.

The inquest jury’s recommendations include the following:

• Ontario’s Ministry of Labour (MOL) and safe work organizations (SWOs) continue working together to educate workers, supervisors and employers on the “extreme importance” of complying with “lock and tag” procedures, and maintaining and testing equipment safety features;

• the MOL and SWOs undertake a mandatory audit of surface mining operations to ensure senior employer representatives perform regular safety checks on employees at remote locations; and,
• the MOL continue with regular spot checks of all safety features of dangerous equipment, and consider requiring employers to periodically certify that the features have been tested and are in good working order.

My opinion

Every aspect of the working world needs to have all the hazards identified, assessed and controlled. Here we find lockout and tagout not being applied and was required. Any machine device must have controls set in place.

By the way, any death in the mining or construction sector initiates a ‘Coroner’s Inquest’. The ‘Healthcare’ and ‘Industrial’ sectors allow for an optional inquest in case of death.

I feel the charges here could have been listed as the following,

Section 160, subsection 1 of the Ontario ‘Mining and Mining Plants’ sector regulation 854 states,

“All switches controlling electrical equipment or lines shall be locked and tagged in the open position while work is being done on the equipment or lines.”

As well, section 159, subsection 3 of the Ontario ‘Mining and Mining Plants’ sector regulation 854 states,

“Precautions to guard workers against injury by moving or energized parts shall be taken before any maintenance, repair or adjustment work is performed on a machine that is energized.”

Section 174, subsection 2 of the Ontario ‘Mining and Mining Plants’ sector regulation 854 states,

“An employer shall ensure that the system, device or controller is not capable of operating or moving equipment unless it is intended to do so.”

Many sections of responsibility in the OHSA, especially employer responsibilities in sections 25 and 26, as well as those of the supervisors in section 27, were violated as well. There was no need for this employee to die on the job if all recognized hazards were assessed and controlled.

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’, ‘Mining Safety Awareness’ 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 – Foundation Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.

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