Blog Post #176 – QBD Cooling Systems Inc. Fined $50,000 After Worker Injured

Excerpt from the Ontario Government’s ‘Newsroom’

QBD Cooling Systems Inc., a commercial refrigerator manufacturer, pleaded guilty and was fined $50,000 on December 8, 2009, for a violation under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) after a worker was injured.

On February 26, 2008, at the company’s facility in Brampton, a worker was assembling evaporator coils, the component that cools a refrigerator. The worker started carrying one coil to another area, but the worker’s view of the floor was blocked by the coil.

Consequently, the worker misjudged a step over a floor-mounted conveyor and tripped. The worker fell on the coil assembly and sustained facial injuries.

QBD Cooling Systems Inc. pleaded guilty to failing to ensure that the evaporator coil assembly was lifted, carried or moved in a way that would not endanger the worker.

The fine was imposed by Justice of the Peace Marsha Farnand. 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:

QBD Cooling Systems Inc. was convicted for violating section 45(a) of the ‘Industrial’ regulation 851/90 which states,

“Material, articles of 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 material, articles or things does not endanger the safety of any worker.”

I believe the MOL inspector had a problem dealing with this one. It is difficult to imagine this type of injury and suggest corrective action as part of a Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) recommendation. Mind you, there are many lifting aids that would have made this operation a much easier and safer operation for the worker, but I wonder if the worker even thought of that or had anyone in the company ever thought of this as an issue. I am finding it difficult to blame the employer on this occasion.

I recently attended the ‘Health & Safety environment trade show in Toronto as a representative of HRS Group and was amazed with many of the displays but one stood out for me. There was a DVD on continuous playback showing a small elderly women moving large ‘wheels’ of cheese with very little effort. A German engineer designed a very effective lifting device that was both light-weight and maneuverable. This particular machine utilized a pivoting arm (360 degree turning ratio) that rotated to accept the large ‘wheel’ of cheese and returned it to the home position to get ready for travel. The elderly woman then moved the ‘wheel’ into position across a very large room, placed the ‘wheel’ into position and attached it to a large machine. A 200 pound man, even a young, strong 200 pound man, would have found this operation taxing at best, and probably would have damaged his back.

The other downside to this particular machine was the high cost to purchase, BUT, I wonder if a machine could have been purchased for far less than the $50,000 fine? Most definitely! Yes, but would this have changed the minds of the employer so their workers could begin to use the effective load carrying devices to better protect their workers? I am not so sure. It is my hope that they would have.

Remember — In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”

HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety need including ‘Material Handling’ and ‘Lifting Techniques’. 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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