Blog Post #560 – Fine in Death at Salt Mine

Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine

The company that owns a salt operation in Goderich, Ontario was ordered to pay hundred and $40,000 following the death of a worker two years ago.

Sifto Canada Corp. received the sentence in July, 2011 for a violation of Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act, says a statement from the Ministry of Labour (MOL) in Toronto. The company pleaded guilty to failing to ensure a grate in the bottom of a salt dome was guarded to prevent a worker from being drowned in, contrary to the province’s sector regulation 854, for “mines and mining plants.”

In addition to an underground salt mine the MOL reports that the company properly houses large domes were salt is stored before being loaded onto ships or rail cars. Open grades in dome floors allow salt to flow down onto conveyors that lead to the loading area.

On August 25, 2009, Murray Nesbitt, 57, was pulled into a great at the mine’s surface plant and suffocated after becoming engulfed in moving salt. The incident occurred just before midnight as Nesbitt was using an excavator.

The machine had broken down and a repair person was called, notes the MOL statement. While waiting, the operator exited the excavator and started to clear salt from the machine.

As Nesbitt was doing so, the conveyor under the dome started to move and salt began falling through the floor great. The MOL adds that the worker was then pulled through the great with the moving salt and asphyxiated.

My opinion

It looks like Sifto Canada Corp. was in contravention of section 59, subsection 1 of the Ontario ‘Mines 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.”

Without reviewing the original report I cannot definitely say which section was violated, I researched and felt section 59, subsection 1 of the Ontario regulation 854 was appropriate in this case. Mind you, section 25, sub-section 2 (h) of the OHSA could also be used.

It states,

“The employer shall take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker.”

I also felt that supervision was lacking in this case. Section 27 of the OHSA provides instructions for the supervisor to ensure the workers safety. I never noticed if the operator had some sort of supervision as part of this operation.

The employer and supervisor must ensure that all aspects of the business are protected. Written safe work procedures must be applied in all cases and the supervisor should take a strong lead by introducing all the hazards at a toolbox meeting prior to the operation.

It just makes good business sense!

A safe workplace is a profitable workplace!

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 – Advanced Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.

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