Blog Post #574 – Superior Court of Justice Upholds Conviction Against Tembec Inc. For Worker Injuries

Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’

A Superior Court of Justice has dismissed an appeal by a Quebec-based company and has ordered Tembec Inc. to pay a fine of $50,000 after a worker was injured at a sawmill.

On June 24, 2008, a worker employed at a sawmill located at 70 – 17th Avenue in Cochrane was trying to clear a jammed conveyor belt. The worker was standing atop a motor guard and was poking at the jam of wood on an adjacent conveyor belt when a piece of wood came up and knocked the worker off the motor guard; he then fell to the floor below. The worker was not wearing fall-arrest equipment and sustained injuries that included limb fractures.

A trial was held before Her Honour Justice M.J. Rocheleau of the Ontario Court of Justice at 149 Fourth Avenue in Cochrane. On July 6, 2011, the defendant, Tembec Inc., was found guilty of failing, as an employer, to comply with Section 85 of Ontario Regulation 851, which requires employers to ensure that safety measures and procedures are followed.

On October 21, 2011 Tembec Inc. – a manufacturer of forest products with offices at 800 Boulevard Rene-Levesque West in Montreal – was fined $50,000 at the Ontario Court of Justice, 88 Riverside Drive in Kapuskasing.

Tembec Inc. appealed its conviction but on June 24, 2013, the Honourable Mr. Justice Robert Riopelle of the Superior Court of Justice located at 48 Spruce Street North in Timmins upheld the conviction imposed at trial and dismissed the appeal.

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:

Tembec Inc. was found guilty of violating section 85 of the Ontario ‘Industrial’ regulation 851/90 which states,

“Where a worker is exposed to the hazard of falling and the surface to which he or she might fall is more than three metres below the position where he or she is situated,

(a) the worker shall wear a serviceable safety belt or harness and lifeline that is adequately secured to a fixed support and so arranged that the worker cannot fall freely for a vertical distance of more than 1.5 metres; and

(b) the fall arrest system described in clause (a) shall,

(i) have sufficient capacity to absorb twice the energy and twice the load that under the circumstances of its use may be transmitted to it, and

(ii) be equipped with a shock absorber or other devices to limit the maximum arresting force to 8.0 kilonewtons to the worker.”

I realize that the ‘Construction’ sector is the only sector, at the present time, in need of compliance of the new ‘Working at Heights’ legislation.(since April 1, 2015) The other three sectors should be looking beyond the minimum requirements today and introduce themselves to the changes. If Tembec Inc. had remembered their responsibilities to the safety of their workforce, this type of accident would not have happened.

P.S. If you ARE an employer in the ‘Construction’ sector please ensure that you have completed the updated training and give your workforce a fighting chance against fall-related accidents.

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 ‘Fall Protection’ and Working at Heights’. 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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