Blog Post #629 – Reliable Wood Shavings Inc. Found Guilty, Fined $115,000

Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’

Reliable Wood Shavings Inc., a Bradford company in the business of purchasing and collecting wood shavings from mills, has been found guilty in the death of a worker and fined $115,000.

On July 14, 2009, a Reliable Wood Shavings worker was sent to a woodworking mill in Schomberg to collect wood shavings from a silo. The worker was employed as a ‘blower truck’ operator whose task was to load wood shavings into the box of a truck for later re-sale to other users.

The task involved backing a truck underneath a silo where the shavings had been stored so they could be emptied into the box of the truck. The silo held about 74 cubic yards of wood shavings and Reliable Wood Shavings was called in to empty the silo when it was almost full.

The silo had ‘clamshell’ doors at the bottom and typically the truck operator would stand back and operate a series of switches located on the end of a long cord so the material would drop into the box of the truck. The truck operator would have to move the truck partway during the process in order to collect all of the material into all parts of the box of the truck.

Most of the time the material in this particular silo would not fall readily when the silo doors were opened, so the truck operator would have to stand inside the box of the truck and prod the material with a stick in order to make the material fall into the box of the truck.

While attempting to dislodge the material on this particular day, the truck operator fell into the box of the truck, became engulfed by wood shavings and suffocated. Attempts to revive the worker failed and the worker later died in hospital.

After a trial, Reliable Wood Shavings Inc. was found guilty of failing to ensure, as an employer, that the loading of the truck from a silo/dust collector was conducted in a safe manner, and fined $115,000. The sentencing took place at the Ontario Court of Justice in Newmarket by His Honour Peter N. Bourque.
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:

Wood Shavings Inc. was found guilty of a contravention of section 35 of the Ontario ‘Industrial’ regulation 851/90 which states,

“Overhead protection shall be provided where falling material may endanger any worker.”

Wood Shavings Inc. was also found guilty of a contravention of section 25, subsection 1(c) of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) which states,

“The employer shall ensure,

“The measures and procedures prescribed are carried out in the workplace.”

As I was first reading this particular report, I held my breath when I realized the issue. I believe everyone out there knew where this was to end up. He/she fell into the truck and was suffocated. End of story. Well….

Maybe not the end, but boy, was the issue easy to see. Anyone working underneath the chute to the silo is sure not thinking with all the brain cells needed. Why would you work directly under a large potential hazard like this one? Why would the employer not set up written work procedures to ensure the safety of the worker? I was really taken a back with this.

I was also stunned to find that Wood Shavings Inc. found this in court. Really? Why? They obviously felt they were not responsible. Well, I guess the government decided otherwise.

Please ensure that there are a safe set of written work instructions.

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’, ‘Machine Guarding’ 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
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.

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