Blog Post #929 – Worker’s Critical Injury Results in $54,500 Fine for Food Processor

Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’

Southcoast IQF Inc., a company that operates a vegetable processing, freezing and packaging facility in southwestern Ontario, pleaded guilty and was fined $54,500 after a worker received a critical injury from the cutting blades of a dicer.

On November 6, 2014, four workers were processing mushrooms in the production room of the plant located at 50 Argyle Avenue in Delhi. This required working with two pieces of equipment, an auger conveyor and a cutter. Workers manually fed raw mushrooms onto the conveyor which carried them up and dropped them into the intake chute of the cutter located at the top of the machine. The mushrooms fall down through the moving wheel that feeds mushrooms into a fixed hole and then exit through a chute and into a bin.

One worker was feeding the mushrooms into the auger while another was in charge of ensuring the intake hopper and the exit chute did not become jammed up with mushrooms. When a jam occurred, the worker in charge of the intake hopper and exit was required to stick a piece of PVC pipe into the hopper or chute to loosen the mushrooms. This was done while the blades were still in motion.

On this occasion, when climbing up to clear the jam at the entry chute, a worker slipped and made contact with the blades of the cutter, suffering permanent injuries.

The investigation by the Ministry of Labour revealed that the exit chute was not equipped with a guard or other device to protect workers from the exposed moving blade

The fine was imposed on October 20, 2016 in provincial court in Simcoe by Justice of the Peace Audrey Greene Summers.

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:

Southcoast IQF Inc. was found guilty of a contravention of the Ontario ‘Industrial’ regulation 851/90, section 24 which states,

“Where a machine or prime mover or transmission equipment has an exposed moving part that may endanger the safety of any worker, the machine or prime mover or transmission equipment shall be equipped with and guarded by a guard or other device that prevents access to the moving part.”

Southcoast IQF Inc. was also found guilty of a contravention of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), section 25, subsection 1(a) which states,

“An employer shall ensure that,

  • the equipment, materials and protective devices as prescribed are provided.”

A few questions need to be answered:

  • Why was the equipment not designed and engineered to incorporate proper machine guarding?
  • Why was the supervisor not better trained to understand the need for machine guarding and ensured the safety of his/her workers?
  • Why was the chute cleaned when the machine was in operation?

All these questions, and more, need to be asked and a JHA (Job hazard analysis) needs to completed to better design safer equipment.

Too late for this employee.

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’ 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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