Excerpt from the Government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’
Linamar Holdings Inc., operating as Roctel Manufacturing, a maker of car parts, was fined $100,000 on March of last year (2010) for a violation of the OHSA that caused an injury to a worker.
On August 29, 2008, a worker of the company’s plant in Guelph started up an assembly line containing a robot cell. A robot cell is a guarded area that contains a robot to do specific work such as packaging or product testing. A conveyor belt inside the robot cell malfunctioned, stopping the line. The worker went into the robot cell to clear the fault in the conveyor. When the problem was fixed, the robot cell automatically resumed operation and struck the worker in the arm, breaking it.
A Ministry of Labour investigation found that the worker was required to put the robot cell in manual mode before entering it. The master key, to put the robot cell in manual mode, could be removed from the key switch in both manual and automatic modes. This allowed the worker to remove the key and walk into the robot cell while it was still in automatic mode.
Linamar Holdings Inc., pleaded guilty to failing to take reasonable precaution of ensuring that the robot cell controller key could not be removed from the switch when the robot cell was in automatic mode.
In addition to the fine, the court imposed a 25% 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.
The law(s) in contravention:
Linamar Holdings Inc. was found guilty of a contravention of the Ontario ‘Industrial Establishments’ sector regulation 851/90, section 42.1 which states,
(1) “This section applies and section 42 does not apply if it is not practical to disconnect electrical installations, equipment or conductors from the power supply before working on, or near, live exposed parts of the installations, equipment or conductors.”
(2) “The worker shall use rubber gloves, mats, shields and other protective equipment and procedures adequate to ensure protection from electrical shock and burns while performing the work.”
(3) “If the installation, equipment or conductor is operating at a nominal voltage of 300 volts or more, a suitably equipped competent person who is able to recognize the hazards and perform rescue operations, including artificial respiration, shall be available and able to see the worker who is performing the work”
Section 25 is clear describing the employers’ responsibility when it comes to the protection of the worker. The employer’s number one responsibility is the health and safety of their workforce. In this case, the Ministry felt that the robot cell should have had sufficient safeguards in place before any worker was able to enter. The ability to enter in the automatic mode shows that SOMEONE did not understand proper Lockout and Tagout procedures and bought off with inferior safeguards. Another engineering screw-up you ask? One has to wonder!
Every employee is entitled to work in a safe environment. Linamar Holdings Inc. Learned the hard way about their responsibilities under the ACT. Fortunately, it was only a broken appendage and not a loss of life. I hope there is not a next time.
HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs including electrical safety awareness. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.
We can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Remember — In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”
‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.
Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Foundation Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.