Blog Post #788 – Schaus Land and Cattle Co. Limited Fined $90,000 After Worker Dies in Fall

Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’

Schaus Land and Cattle Co. Limited, a company engaged in the raising and feeding of cattle for sale, has pleaded guilty and has been fined $90,000 after a worker died as a result of a fall.

The worker, who was employed by Sunrise Potato Storage Ltd. near Alliston, was at the farm in the Town of Mono on August 23, 2013 to pick up and transfer manure. Schaus had a trade agreement with Sunrise which involved Sunrise removing cattle manure from the farm to be used in Sunrise’s fields, and in turn Sunrise would provide Schaus with straw for the cattle.

The farm’s facilities include a barn with an underground pump room that contains the operating controls for a cattle-watering system. Water from a pond is drawn into a large holding tank and then pumped into separate pressure tanks located in the pump room; water is then distributed to various water bowls located inside the barn and out in the fields.

The pump room is accessed by a hatch located on the floor of the barn. The hatch is lifted and removed, leaving an opening in the floor with a ladder leading down to provide access.

On the day of the incident, Schaus workers observed a problem with a water bowl located in the cattle field. One of the workers opened the hatch, climbed down and shut off the water valve to the affected water bowl, then left. The hatch was placed near the door of the washroom in the barn.

The washroom is located directly in front of the hatch leading down to the pump room. To access the washroom, a worker would normally walk on the hatch covering the opening to the pump room.

The Sunrise worker was seen on the farm, preparing to transport a truckload of manure. The worker was later found lying on the floor of the pump room. The worker succumbed the next day to traumatic brain injuries that were a result of the fall into the pump room.

A Ministry of Labour investigation determined that the worker likely stopped at the barn to use the washroom. The evidence revealed that there was nothing present at the workplace that could have prevented a worker from falling into the pump room.

The company was fined $90,000 by Justice of the Peace Michael Barnes in an Orangeville court.

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:

Schaus Land and Cattle Co. Limited was found guilty of a contravention of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), section 25(2)(h) which states,

“An employer shall,

take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker.”

It seems section 25, subsection 2(h) of the OHSA is being used far too often. As well, there is a farming regulation 414 that is either not being used or is not used very often.

I realize it is just a farm but why was there not a procedure in place including some sort of barriers placed when anyone is to enter the pump room. By the way, is the pump room fully ventilated because if it wasn’t then it fails under Ontario regulation 632/05, under confined space entry. In a ‘Confined Space’, a permit must be issued and an attendant is to be present to protect the worker(s) inside AND ensure that no one else can enter and kept away from any hazards. If the pump room was deemed to be a ‘Restricted Space'(not deemed to be as dangerous) as a ‘Confined Space’) then safety procedures can still be put in place to protect all participants.

We would have a live and healthy worker if this type of procedure was being followed. I bet they have something like that in place right now.

Ensure your workplace is a safe place.

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’, Confined Space Entry’, ‘Fall Protection’ 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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