Blog Post #128 – Bunge Canada Fined $70,000 After Worker Seriously Injured

Excerpt from the Ontario Government’s ‘Newsroom’

Bunge Canada, an Oakville maker of edible oil products, was fined $70,000 on August 18, 2009, for a violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) after a worker was seriously injured.

On March 28, 2008, at Bunge’s Weston Rd. facility in Toronto, a worker was on top of a tanker-trailer, filling it with oil. The driver started pulling out of the loading bay while the worker was still on top of the trailer, and the worker fell 3.5 meters to the concrete floor. The raised tanker-trailer wheels ran over the worker’s arm and leg, causing serious injury.

Bunge Canada pleaded guilty under the OHSA to failing to take the reasonable precaution of establishing an adequate system of signals permitting tanker-trailer drivers to leave a loading dock.

The fine was imposed by Justice of the Peace John Cottrell. In addition to the fine, the court imposed a 25-per-cent victim fine surcharge on the total, 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:

Bunge Canada was found guilty of violating section 25 of the ACT, subsection 2(h) which states,

“The employer shall take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of the worker.”

Again, an employer did not understand his/her responsibility under the law. He/she may say, “It was only an accident.” Yes, that may be so. The MOL (Ministry of Labour) feels that the employer did not evaluate all possible scenarios for an accident to happen and the employer will be found guilty because of it.

Every precaution reasonable! Hmm….. What does that mean? As I stated earlier, the employer needs to establish hazard awareness training and guidelines for themselves and their supervisors so that this type of hazard can be recognized and corrective action implemented prior to the incident/accident. This is the type of effort demanded by the MOL.

It usually is the findings of the MOL that a hazard control was:

1) Not in place
2) Was not adequate to the needs of the hazard
3) Not effective because of training and periodic review

A hazard control needs more than recognition. It must be evaluated after implementation to ensure that the control is doing its job. In this case, a fall hazard existed and the employer did not understand that section 26 of the construction regulation 213/91 makes it mandatory that all employees need to have some sort of Fall Protection, whether it is Fall Prevention, (guardrails, fall restraint devices etc.) of Fall Arrest when a fall hazard of more than 3 metres exists. This is the minimum standard for ‘Fall Protection’ in Ontario.

I wonder if they have any other hazard in their workplace without the benefit of controls.

Only time will tell. I believe the company got off lucky. There are numerous other sections of the regulations as well as the ACT that may have applied. Each carries a personal fine of up to $25,000 and a possible jail sentence of up to 1 year. The company fines max. out at $500,000. As you can see, their luck is still holding. The next time, the MOL will not be so forgiving.

Remember — In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Foundation Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.

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