Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine

Fines totaling $225,000 have been levied against a Toronto wire manufacturer and three company officials following a worker’s serious entrapment injury five years ago.

The incident occurred at Steelmatic Wire Inc. on July 20, 2006, while the worker was operating a wire-drawing machine used to stretch lengths of wire to a desired diameter. As part of the MOL probe, a ministry statement notes it is believed the worker was operating the machine in production mode with a protective cover open. When reaching into the machine to adjust the wire, the fast-moving wire drew in the worker.

At trial, court heard that prior to the incident, an MOL inspector had ordered Steelmatic Wire to interlock the protective covers so they could not be opened during production. The company was also directed to retain a professional engineer to assess the machine’s hazards and implement any recommendations arising from the assessment.

Steelmatic Wire failed to comply, the ministry reports. All defendants were aware that the machine would operate with the protective covers open.

In May, Steelmatic Wire and three officials — company director Stephen Gauci, plant manager Ivano Zarlenga and general manager Paul Orlando — entered guilty pleas. In general, the breaches revolved around the failure to take reasonable precautions to ensure that the machines were properly interlocked and workers were not endangered by moving parts. Steelmatic Wire received a fine of $150,000; the individuals each was levied the maximum penalty of $25,000.

My opinion

It never ceases to amaze me when I read about a company disregarding the stop-work order issued by the MOL. Can you believe it, in this day and age. In fact, I use this particular incident in most of my health and safety courses to show what happens to those who disregard due process by the health and safety powers that be. (Ministry of Labour) In Ontario, the fines are $25,000 per incident for a maximum personal fine and a possible 1 year maximum for jail time. Would you take the chance? The company can receive a fine of up to $500,000 as well so, again, I ask you, “would you take the chance?”
Not me!

By the way, the company was in violation of section 24 of the Industrial regulation 851 which states,

“When 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 hoarded by a guard or other device that prevents access to the moving part.”

Here we have the information Steelmatic needing to incorporate health and safety into their process as part of their initial start up plan for this type of machine. If health and safety considerations were included in the planning stage of Steelmatic’s production process then this type of guard would have been in place, the employee would have been protected and life, in general, would have been better for everyone.

Pretty nasty stuff to allow a worker so near dangerous equipment! What were they thinking? Oh yeah, production over safety. The same old story! If this was not their ideology then the managers were incompetent as defined by the ACT in section 1.1.

The managers were fortunate not to receive any jail time, in my opinion.

WORKERS — Please remember that you can call the MOL any time for a suspected contravention of the ACT, section 50 prevents the employer or supervisor or other employees to consider any retribution towards you, any harassment of any kind. In other words, the MOL WANTS you to make that call if you feel unsafe.

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 ‘Machine Guarding’. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259. We can also be reached at info@hrsgroup.com

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

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

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