Excerpt from the Ontario Government’s ‘Newsroom’

Rol-land Farms Limited, a Blenheim-based mushroom grower and processor, was fined $60,000 on February 16, 2010 for a violation under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) after a worker was injured.

On September 23, 2008, a worker at the company’s processing facility in Campbellville was cleaning large nylon nets with a power washer while a machine wound them onto a spool. The worker held a net on the spool and started the machine with a portable controller. As the net coiled, the worker’s hand became caught in a pinch point between the net and the spool, causing the worker to drop the controller. Unable to stop the machine, the worker called for help. A supervisor stopped the machine. The worker sustained several arm injuries.

A Ministry of Labour investigation found that the net washing machine was not equipped with a guard to prevent access to the pinch point.

Rol-land Farms Limited pleaded guilty under the OHSA of failing to take the reasonable precaution of preventing access to the pinch point to protect the worker.

The fine was imposed by Justice of the Peace Lina Mills. 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:

Rol-land Farms was convicted under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, section 25, subsection 2(h) which states,

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

The company could have been charged under the Ontario regulation 851, section 24,

“Where a machine or prime mover or transmission equipment has an exposed moving part that may endanger the safety of any worker, the machine or prime mover or transmission equipment shall be equipped with and guarded by a guard or other device that prevents access to the moving part.”

Under section 66 of the ACT, any company infraction or contravention of the ACT can lead to a company fine of up to $500,000 and a possible jail term not to exceed 1 year.

The supervisor should thank his/her lucky stars that the MOL didn’t turn their attention his/her way. A personal fine of $25,000 could have been levied to the supervisor for a conviction under section 27 of the ACT, subsection 2(c), which reads exactly the same as section 25, subsection 2(h) does.

In my opinion, I hope Rol-land Farms Ltd. does not feel that the Ministry of Labour dealt too harshly with them. There were many more sections of the ACT that were in contravention but they did not use them or refer to them. If the accident had been a repeated offense, or, had the outcome been more dire I believe the MOL would have been forced to send Rol-Land Farms Ltd. a stronger message.

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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