Blog Post #873 – Cargill Value-Added Meats Fined $65,000

Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’

Cargill Limited, operating as Cargill Value Added Meats, pleaded guilty and has been fined $65,000 after a worker suffered the loss of fingers to exhaust fan blades.

On June 7, 2013, at the company’s facility at 235 Nuggett Court in Brampton, a worker was operating the ground beef pressing equipment that makes meat into patties before they enter the freezing conveyor. The meat patties, while being transported through the conveyor’s ‘flash/freeze’ section, are sprayed with liquid nitrogen, creating a mist that exits through exhaust pipes located on the roof of the building. During the operation of the conveyor, the nitrogen – along with small pieces of ground beef – can freeze in the exhaust pipes. In turn, this can cause a build-up of ice at the opening of the exhaust pipes on the roof of the building. Maintenance workers would then normally use a rubber mallet to bang the exhaust pipe to clear any ice jams.

While attempting to clear the ice jam in the exhaust pipe, the worker put one hand in the pipe; the exhaust fan blades amputated several fingers, among other injuries.

In this incident, Cargill Limited committed the offence of failing as an employer to provide information, instruction and supervision to the worker to protect the health or safety of the worker, which is contrary to Section 25(2)(a) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Following a guilty plea, the company was fined $65,000 by Justice of the Peace Noel Rohan in Brampton court on April 12, 2016.

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:

Cargill Limited was found guilty of a contravention of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), section 25(2)(a) which states,

“An employer shall,

(a) provide information, instruction and supervision to a worker to protect the health or safety of the worker.”

  • Where was the supervisor in all this?
  • Why was a hazard assessment not completed?
  • Why was the need to remove ice buildup necessary?

The Hierarchy of Hazard Controls was needed in this case. The hazard MUST be identified, assesses and controlled and the need to control is paramount.

The Hierarchy of Control is listed below:

  1. Elimination,
  2. Substitution,
  3. Isolation,
  4. Engineering Controls,
  5. Administration Controls, and finally
  6. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

The employer must understand this principle when controlling any hazard. The control can be at 3 locations as well and they are:

  1. At the source (elimination, substitution and isolation)
  2. Along the path (engineering controls such as mechanical ventilation), and
  3. At the Worker (administration controls and PPE)

The farther up the line the control is in place the better protected the worker is. I believe that the elimination of the control is always your best shot but not always feasible. In this case, I wonder if a substitution to a less hazardous element could have been used OR to isolate the worker from the nitrogen at all times.

Your call, my loyal readership.

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’, ‘Machine Guarding’, ‘Lockout and Tagout’ 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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