Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’
National Steel Car Limited, a designer and manufacturer of railroad freight cars in Hamilton, has pleaded guilty and received a fine of $140,000 after a worker received a permanent injury while operating a hydraulic press machine in the workplace.
On December 19, 2011, a worker was helping a press operator on a hydraulic press at the company’s plant located at 600 Kenilworth Avenue North. The helper noticed a loose machine component located behind the machine’s punch line. The helper thought the operator had stopped operation of the press and proceeded to reach under the punch line to retrieve or adjust the component; however, the operator activated the machine and it moved, pinching the helper’s arm in the press and resulting in a permanent injury.
The press was designed to accommodate the use of two control pedestals whenever two workers were producing parts. It also includes an electronic safety feature called an active opt-electronic protective device, which produces an infra-red light beam that can provide worker protection by stopping the press when something, including a hand or arm, is inside the beam’s surveillance area. After each change of the punch set, the beam must be adjusted so it runs no lower than 14 mm below the punch centre line.
A Ministry of Labour investigation found that at the time of the incident, the beam had not been properly adjusted and as a result, it did not provide protection to workers. The investigation also found that although some workers received training from an outside provider on how to operate the press, the two workers involved in the incident did not receive this training. They were not provided with specific instructions relating to the press, were not made aware of a second control pedestal and were not made aware of the need to verify and adjust the position of the light beam before commencing the work.
National Steel Car pleaded guilty to failing as an employer to provide information, instruction and supervision to a worker to protect the health and safety of the worker, contrary to the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
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.
The law in contravention:
National Steel Car was found guilty of a contravention of section 25, subsection 2 (a) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, (OHSA) which states,
“An employer shall,
(a) Provide information, instruction and supervision to a worker to protect the health or safety of the worker.”
Every operator on any job should have a set of safe written work instructions identifying all hazards associated with the job as well as the proper supervision to go along with the job.
The supervisor failed the employee as well. Section 27, subsection 2(a, b and c) of the same act state,
“A supervisor shall,
(a) Advise a worker of the existence of any potential or actual danger to the health or safety of the worker of which the supervisor is aware;
(b) Where so prescribed, provide a worker with written instructions as to the measures and procedures to be taken for protection of the worker; and
(c) Take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker.”
Where was the supervisor here? Please tell me that he/she did not know all about the issues concerning the press? If he/she did not, then the employer is guilty of violating section 25, subsection 2 (c) of the OHSA which states,
“When appointing a supervisor, appoint a competent person.”
The fine was in-line with the issue but there were many more sections of the Act that could have been uses as well.
Please ensure that you, the employer, and your supervisors read the OHSA as well as the appropriate sector regulations that apply to your workplace. You will be certainly glad you did. I bet National Steel Car Ltd. has read them now!
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’ and ‘Standard Operating Procedures’. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.
‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.
Daniel L. Beal – CHSEP – Advanced
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.