Blog Post #256 – Olympic Plastic Bags (1983) Ltd. Fined $85,000 after Worker Killed

Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’

Olympic Plastic Bags (1983) Ltd., a plastic bag manufacturer, was fined $85,000 for a violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act that caused a worker’s death.

On August 13, 2009, at the company’s Toronto plant, a worker and supervisor were removing a horizontal beam from the second level of a racking system. To access the beam, the worker stood on the wooden pallet on a lift truck while the supervisor raised the pallet. The worker had trouble dislodging the beam so the supervisor went to get another lift truck to better access the beam. Meanwhile, the worker, left alone on the raised pallet of the lift truck, fell about 3.5 meters to the concrete floor. The worker died after sustaining severe head injuries as a result of the fall.

A Ministry of Labour investigation found that the platform of the lift truck was not in compliance with the Ontario Regulations for Industrial Establishments and the worker was not using a permanently installed seat.

Olympic Plastic Bags (1983) Ltd. pleaded guilty to failing to ensure that the beam in the racking system was moved in such a way that it did not endanger the safety of a worker.

The fine was imposed by Justice of the Peace Kevin Madigan. 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:

Olympic Plastic Bags (1983) Ltd. was found guilty of a contravention of section 45(a) of the Ontario ‘Industrial’ regulation 851/90 which states,

“Material, articles or things,

a) Required to be lifted, carried or moved, shall be lifted, carried or moved in such a way and with such precautions and safeguards, including protective clothing, guards or other precautions as will ensure that the lifting, carrying or moving of the articles or things does not endanger the safety of any worker.”

I usually give the credit to the MOL for the hard work they go through enforcing the ACT and the regulations. In this case, I hope Olympic Plastic Bags was also charged with other violations. The pallet used as a lifting device was ludicrous to say the least. The supervisor of the company should have been competent enough to know that only a proper man lift, made for forklift use, was the only way to safely lift the worker via a forklift. How stupid can one get! One can pick up a man lift from Ackland Grainger for less than a $1,000. But I guess paying a fine of $85,000 plus a 25% victim fine surcharge was much easier. (about $21, 250) Do not forget the loss of credibility that goes along with a death in the workplace. The company has now been publicly named as unsafe. I am sure the MOL will be keeping a sharp eye on them for the foreseeable future.

I read this type of concern quite often because companies refuse to buy the proper equipment and a worker dies or became critically injured. In this case, even the victim fine surcharge would have paid for top notch equipment and the training to use it.

I sincerely hope that more companies read this type of response and consider all their options prior to letting their employees work in unsafe conditions.

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 ‘Forklift Certification’ and ‘Forklift Re-Certification’. 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 – Foundation Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.

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