Blog Post #777 – St. Marys Cement Fined $75,000 After Worker Trapped in Hopper and Injured

Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’

St. Marys Cement, a manufacturer of cement and related construction products, pleaded guilty and was fined $75,000 after a worker was trapped in a sand and gravel hopper and suffered a leg injury as a result.

On July 19, 2013, a worker at the company’s aggregate pit located at S895 Durham Regional Road 13 in Sunderland was trying to remove a blockage in a hopper. The aggregate pit is a mine as defined under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The worker was attempting to clear a blockage consisting of some over-sized gravel that had become lodged in the lower section of an 80-ton capacity hopper.

After unsuccessfully using a pry bar to clear the blockage from the outside of the hopper, the worker was lowered into the hopper inside the bucket of an excavator. The worker exited the bucket and stood on top of the material in the hopper; at this time, the conveyor belt that took material away from the hopper was shut off. While inside the hopper the worker managed to poke a hole which allowed some material to fall through, which then filled up the belt; other workers were radioed to start the belt.

The starting of the conveyor belt released the blockage and sand and gravel material began to flow out of the bottom of the hopper. The release of the blockage caused part of the worker’s body to drop down the hole toward the conveyor and trapped the worker in the hopper. Workers were radioed to shut off the conveyor belt and the worker was extricated and taken to hospital.

The Ministry of Labour investigation found that the employer failed to ensure that, before a worker entered into any silo, bin, hopper or other container or structure containing bulk material, all further supply of material thereto was stopped and any removal of material therefrom prevented.

St. Marys Cement pleaded guilty to failing as an employer to ensure that measures and procedures prescribed by law were carried out in the workplace, and was fined $75,000 by His Honour Justice Joseph F. Kenkel in Newmarket court on April 20, 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.

My opinion

The law(s) in contravention:

St. Marys Cement was found guilty of a contravention of the Ontario ‘Mining and Mining Plants’ regulation 854/90, section 60, subsection 1 which states,

“Before a worker enters any silo, bin, hopper or other container or structure containing bulk material, all further supply of material thereto shall be stopped and any removal of material therefrom shall be prevented.”

St. Marys Cement was also found guilty of a violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), section 25(1)(c) which states,

“An employer shall ensure that,

(c) the measures and procedures prescribed are carried out in the workplace.”

A hopper is usually included in a Confined Space Entry program and that means that permits needed to be issued and all of the associated hazards discussed prior to any work is being done and during any work being done.

The company did not understand that atmospheric hazards are not the only ones involved in a Confined Space. Listed below are some of the numerous CSE hazards that employers have to understand and deal with:

1) Poor Air Quality
2) Chemical Exposures
3) Process-related Hazards
4) Safety Hazards
5) Radiation
6) Temperature Extremes
7) Shifting or the Collapse of Bulk Material
8) Barrier Failure – may cause flooding
9) Uncontrolled Energy Including Electrical Shock, just to name a few.

There is a regulation for all of Ontario covering Confined Space Entry. (Ont. Reg. 632/05)

If you have a confined space or spaces in or on your workplace please ensure you follow the guidelines of reg. 632/05. That 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 ‘Confined Spaced Entry’ and ‘Lockout and Tagout’. 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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