Blog Post #992 – Pressure Washer Injures Farm Worker, Company Fined $55,000

Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’

Operators of a pig farming facility in Nanticoke pleaded guilty and were fined $55,000 after a worker was injured with a portable washer spray gun.

Great Lakes Pork Inc. and Ontario Management Group Inc. form a registered partnership called Paragon Farms. It operates the swine breeding and farrowing operation at 636 Concession 4, Nanticoke.

On December 15, 2015 an employee of Paragon was injured while cleaning a stall using a portable washer spray gun supplied and owned by Paragon. The incident occurred when the worker tripped while stepping into a stall. The worker stumbled, dropped the gun and the pressurized water sprayed into the worker’s face. The worker was taken to hospital for emergency treatment and suffered a permanent injury as a result of the incident.

The trigger, or operating mechanism of the gun, which delivered water at an estimated pressure of 2,000 to 2,300 psi, was held in an “open” position by a loosely connected plastic zip tie, which is not standard equipment for the device.

Court was told that at the time of the incident, Paragon had in place both a personal protective equipment policy and a pressure washer safety policy. Both policies direct that when pressure washing duties are being performed, safety glasses or a face shield must be worn; workers are directed to never wire, tape or strap the trigger or wand of a washer spray gun. Workers had been trained on the contents of those policies. Paragon also held periodic health and safety meetings, the last one being about four months prior to the incident.

Safety glasses were made available by Paragon and other employees did wear protective safety glasses for various tasks in the barn. However, some employees shunned the safety glasses when power washing was being done because the glasses tended to fog up. The failure of some employees to wear the glasses was known to Paragon management and, it was found that Paragon was not actively enforcing the policy, thus allowing the workers to ignore the safety directions regarding eye/face protection when performing pressure washing tasks.

Immediately following the incident, Paragon prohibited the use of zip ties on trigger assemblies and reduced water pressures to 1,800 psi. The best protection remains the use of safety glasses or shields. Paragon has investigated and introduced anti-fogging products and is enforcing its protective eye wear policy.

The company was fined $55,000 in Brantford court by Justice of the Peace Audrey Green Summers on May 24, 2017.

The court also 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:

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

“An employer shall,

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

Over the years, this particular section has been significantly used, especially when there is no direct reference listed in either the sector regulation or the OHSA. As well, the OHSA is used for most commercial farming operations. Ontario Farming regulation 414/05 is available but I have not seen it used over the past 9 years.

Why was a JHA (Job Hazard Analysis) not completed before the job was to take place? Why was there not a set of SOPs (Standard Operating Procedure) that described the need and proper use of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). (There are certainly a lot of acronyms)

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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