Blog Post #658 – Maple Leaf Foods Inc. Fined $110,000 after Worker Loses Fingers

Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’

Maple Leaf Foods Inc., carrying on business as Maple Leaf Consumer Foods and Cappola Food, has been fined $110,000 after a worker lost fingers in a chopping machine.

Maple Leaf owns and operates a meat processing plant located at 25 Lepage Court in North York, Ontario. On July 10, 2012, a worker employed by Maple Leaf at the plant was operating a meat chopper machine. This machine had a cage which enclosed a moving blade; once the cage was lifted the blade would slowly come to a stop. As the worker was operating the machine, the worker noticed that some meat had become stuck in the blade. The worker lifted the safety cage and attempted to use a hook to pull the meat from the blade, which continued to turn. As the worker did so, the hook became caught by the moving blade causing the worker’s hand to come into contact with the blade. The worker suffered the loss of fingers.

The Ministry of Labour investigated and concluded, based on the evidence gathered, that Maple Leaf failed as an employer to ensure that a part of a machine was cleaned only when motion that may endanger a worker had stopped.

The $110,000 fine was imposed by Justice of the Peace David J. Hunt.

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:

Maple Leaf Foods would have been guilty of a contravention of section 75, subsections (a) and (b) of the Ontario ‘Industrial’ regulation 851/90 which states,

“A part of a machine, transmission machinery, device or thing shall be cleaned, oiled, adjusted, repaired or have maintenance work performed on it only when,

(a) Motion that may endanger a worker has stopped; and

(b) Any part that has been stopped and that may subsequently move and endanger a worker has been blocked to prevent its movement.”

Maple Leaf Foods WAS found guilty, however, of a contravention of section 25, subsection 1 (c) of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) which states,

“An employer shall ensure that,

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

All procedures must be documented and discussed prior to any work is to be done, especially where there are direct contraventions to either the ACT or appropriate sector regulations.

Here we have a situation where appropriate machine guarding, (interlock guards, light curtains etc.) would have easily handled the situation and the operator would never have been placed at risk. Cleaning instructions would have helped as well.

The MOL report does not list section 75 of the ‘Industrial’ regulation 851/90, as being contravened but I have listed it because it fits quite nicely here. The government also expects that all aspects of the ACT and appropriate sector regulation have to be followed in the workplace. (hence the section 25 violation)

Ignorance of the law is no defense. Ensure your workplace is a safe place and follow the instructions of the green book to the letter.

It IS the law!

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’, ‘Lockout and Tagout’ 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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