Blog Post #709 – Erie Greenhouse Structures Inc. Fined $73,000 after Worker Injured

Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’

Erie Greenhouse Structures Inc., a company that produces and installs greenhouses and related equipment in Tillsonburg, has been fined $73,000 after a worker lost part of a finger in machinery.

On June 27, 2012, a worker was welding pieces of metal at the company’s industrial workplace at 15 Clearview Drive in Tillsonburg. The welder was using a brake press to form metal into a tobacco bin when a finger was pinched in the machine’s pinch point. As a result, the welder lost most of the finger. A Ministry of Labour investigation followed.

It was determined that the brake press was not maintained in good condition and that two of three methods of operation were not working. As well, it was determined that the machine was not guarded at its pinch point as required.

The investigation also found that there was an administrative contravention about the workplace joint health and safety committee. By law a workplace that employs between 20 and 49 workers must have a joint health and safety committee and have at least two workers on the committee; Erie Greenhouse Structures employs 22 workers including the welder who was injured.

No one acting for Erie Greenhouse Structures attended the trial held on July 23 in Woodstock. The company was found guilty on three counts under the Occupational Health and Safety Act by Justice of the Peace Robert M. Seneshen, and was fined a total of $73,000. A charge against a supervisor is pending and may proceed to trial in September.

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:

Erie Greenhouse Structures Inc. was found guilty of a contravention of section 9.4 of the occupational health and safety act (OHSA) which states,

“The constructor or employer shall cause a joint health and safety committee to be established and maintained at the workplace.”

Erie Greenhouse Structures Inc. was also found guilty of a contravention of section 24, subsection 1 (b) of the OHSA which states,

“An employer shall ensure that,

(b) The equipment, materials and protective devices provided by the employer are maintained in good condition;” and finally

Erie Greenhouse Structures Inc. was found guilty of violating section 25 of the Ontario ‘Industrial’ regulation 851/90 which states,

“An in-running nip hazard or any part of a machine, device or thing that may endanger the safety of any worker shall be equipped with and guarded by a guard or other device that prevents access to the pinch point.”

Here we have a machine guarding accident. Here we find equipment not kept in good condition. All this could have been eliminated if the company had had an actively motivated joint health and safety committee as mandated in the OHSA.

Erie Greenhouse Structures Inc. must get themselves a copy of the OHSA and Industrial regulation 851/90 as soon as possible. There is no knowing what other section of the law is being contravened as we speak and placing their employees at risk.

There is also another possibility and that is for Erie Greenhouse should hire a contract health and safety professional. A CRSP, CHSC, or CEP or CHSEP can take a look at their policies and procedures (if they have any) and help them on their way in developing a safe work culture. It would cost more if they stay reactive instead of proactive.

Ensure you workplace is a safe place! Your workers are entitled to that!

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 Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.

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