Blog Post #821 – RJM Farms Inc. Fined $82,500 in Death of Worker

Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’

The death of a migrant farm worker has resulted in a fine of $82,500 to a potato farm after the worker was crushed by a potato hopper assembly.

On May 27, 2013, several workers were running the seed potato cutting line on RJM Farms, located at 5980 5th Side Road in Egbert, southwest of Barrie. The workers were required to remove a conveyor from the line and replace it with a potato hopper used to process seed potatoes. However, the workers realized that the hopper was not high enough to reach the conveyor.

The workers used bottle jacks to raise the container-frame assembly. One worker stayed near the middle with a level to make sure it was being raised evenly; the other workers extended the bottle jacks to raise the assembly.

One worker was situated under part of the jacked-up load to gain access to the bottle jack when the assembly suddenly fell. The worker was crushed between the frame of the potato hopper and the axle and death occurred immediately.

A subsequent investigation by the Ministry of Labour found that the hopper container-frame assembly was raised beyond the height of the anchor posts of the wheel-and-axle assembly. In addition, the hopper’s wheels were not chocked, nor was the elevated hopper container frame assembly blocked securely and solidly to prevent it from accidentally falling. While elevated, the wheel-and-axle assembly was vulnerable to rolling away from the hopper, causing the bottle jack to overturn in the opposite direction. It was the first time the worker had performed the task of adjusting the hopper.

RJM Farms Inc. pleaded guilty to failing as an employer to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker, and was fined $82,500 by Justice of the Peace Dennis A. Wilson in Barrie court on November 24, 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:

RJM Farms Inc. was found guilty of a contravention of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) section 25, subsection 2 (h) which states,

“An employer shall,

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

Another migrant worker killed on the job in Ontario! Do you, the reader, remember the Metron swing-stage accident where 4 migrant workers were killed and one became permanently disabled? It seems to happen more often than naught.

The employers seem to feel that migrant workers are not to be treated as those from Canada. I wrote about a group in BC that had workers picked up right off the boat and taken to a camp inland where they were forced to live and work in slave-labour conditions. In Canada! They were only found out after a fire was started to expose the isolated and cold conditions of the camp.

The Ontario government has recognized this as a problem and I can see them working to change legislation to better protect those foreign workers here on temporary assignments. (migrants)

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’ 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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