Blog Post #931 – Vale Canada Limited Fined $1 Million in Death of One Worker, Critical Injury to Another

Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’

Vale Canada Limited pleaded guilty and has been fined $1,000,000 after one worker died and another was critically injured while attempting to clear a jam in a rock-crushing machine at a plant near Sudbury.

The incident took place at the company’s rock-crushing facility located at 18 Rink Street in Copper Cliff, Ontario on April 6, 2014. A rock crusher, used in the first stages of the refining process, became jammed with a broken-off steel moil point (a pointed tool) inside the crusher. There were no established procedures for removing broken or jammed materials from crushers.

After one failed attempt to remove the moil point, two workers positioned themselves above the jaws of the crusher to use a cutting torch to free the moil point, which weighed about 53.5 kilograms. As the cutting torch was applied, the heat softened the steel of the moil point, reducing friction and causing the moil point to be released from the compression power of the crusher jaws created by stored energy. The moil point propelled vertically toward the two workers, striking each of them. One suffered fatal trauma and the other suffered critical injuries.

The subsequent Ministry of Labour investigation found the electrical motor of the crusher had not been locked out, and no measures were taken to release the stored energy of the crusher.

Vale Canada Limited pleaded guilty to failing to ensure that gravity-stored energy was dissipated or contained while work was being done on the crusher, and to failing to provide information, instruction and supervision to a worker on a safe procedure to remove the broken moil point from the crusher. The company also pleaded guilty to failing to ensure that pinch points were guarded on the conveyor and crusher; these offences were not related to the fatality or injury.

The company was fined a total of $1,000,000 in provincial court by Justice Patrick Boucher on October 24, 2016 in Sudbury court.

A supervisor who was acting as a worker that day, Greg Taylor, pleaded guilty to failing to work in compliance with Ontario’s mining regulation, and was fined $3,000 for his involvement in the failed attempt to remove the moil point.

In addition to the fines, 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.

This is the second-highest fine imposed by a court in Ontario for contraventions of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. In 2013 Vale Canada Limited was convicted and fined $1,050,000 in the 2011 deaths of two workers at its Stobie Mine near Sudbury.

My opinion

The law(s) in contravention:

There are many to cover so please be patient.

Vale was found guilty of the following sections of the Ontario ‘Mining and Mining Plants’ regulation 854/90,

  1. Section 185 (2), which states,

“A machine that has an exposed moving part that may endanger the safety of any person shall be fenced or guarded unless its position, construction or attachment provides equivalent protection.”

  1. Section 185 (7b) which states,

“If any work is being done on a machine,

(b) any hydraulic, pneumatic or gravity stored energy shall be dissipated or contained.”

  1. Section 196(3.2) which states,

“Subject to subsection (3.2), the pinch points referred to in subsection (3) shall be guarded by a guard that, unless it would render the pinch point inaccessible, extends at least 0.9 metres from the pinch point

(3.2) If it is impracticable to comply with subsection (3.1),

(a) a fence shall be in place that prevents access to the pinch points;

(b) a barricade shall be in place that prevents access to the pinch points; or

(c) a gate equipped with an interlocking device, which has a manual reset switch, shall be in place that prevents access to the pinch points while the conveyor is operating.”

Vale Canada Limited was also found guilty of a contravention of the Ontario ‘Occupational Health and Safety Act’ (OHSA) section 25, subsection 2(a) which states,

“an employer shall,

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

Vale Canada Limited was also found guilty of a similar contravention fro the OHSA section 25, subsection 1(c) which states,

“An employer shall ensure that,

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

Really, what else is there to say? The management at Vale has no sense of safety and continue to just pay fines, injures workers and keep everything the way it was.

Have you ever heard this one, “Safety is a priority unless it interferes with production?” Yeah, me too, all too often.

I wonder what authority the Safety Manager at Vale has?

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’, ‘ 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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