Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’
Sun-Brite Foods Inc., a company that processes and cans field crops, has pleaded guilty and has been fined $70,000 after a seasonal farm worker was critically injured.
On September 5, 2013, the seasonal farm worker, who was from Mexico, was engaged in cleaning the peeler room of the company’s food processing facility at 1532 County Road 34 near Ruthven. The room contains tomato-peeling machines, each with a waste chute connected to a trough. A power screw auger pushes waste material through the trough.
The worker was cleaning the area around one of the machines and attempted to step over the waste trough; a foot slipped into the trough and became caught in the auger. The worker suffered serious injuries to the foot, which had to be partially amputated.
A Ministry of Labour investigation found that the peeler machine involved in the incident had been installed just two weeks prior. While steel mesh guards were affixed over the waste troughs of the other three machines, no guard had yet been installed on the newest machine; as such, the auger was fully exposed.
The powered auger was an in-running nip hazard which created a pinch point between the auger and the side of the trough.
The company pleaded guilty was fined $70,000 by Justice of the Peace Salma Jafar in Provincial Offences Court in Windsor on February 9, 2015. 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(s) in contravention:
Sun-Brite Foods Inc. was found guilty of a contravention of section 25 of the Ontario ‘Industrial’ sector 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.”
Sun-Brite also failed as an employer to ensure that the measures and procedures prescribed by the regulation were followed; this is contrary to Section 25(1) (c) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
Section 25, subsection 1 (c) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) states,
“An employer shall ensure that,
(c) The measures and procedures prescribed are carried out in the workplace.”
Here we have another seasonal worker hurt on the job in Ontario. It is bad enough to have to use seasonal workers instead of Ontario residents but the care of the workers seems to go out the door at the first sign of trouble. Does the reader remember the Metron accident? Four seasonal workers were killed and one seasonal worker was permanently injured in a 13 story fall from a swing stage.
One of the problems with this type of incident is that the seasonal worker does not know that he/she is protected under the law and can refuse unsafe work. Ontario also has legislation to ensure that all employers conduct hazard assessments prior to any work being done. Obviously, this was not the case here.
Please ensure that your workplace is a safe place. Ontario has a very good safety record but it can get a lot better with employer/supervisor/committee involvement.
I might suggest we contact our provincial government and have them review seasonal worker safety laws. There should be a priority, as there is in the province of Quebec, to use provincial residents is they are available. Ontario workers should come first, both in safety as well as opportunity!
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.
‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.
Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Advanced Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.