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Company fined $70K after worker injured in canning facility


February 25, 2015
By Ontario Ministry of Labour

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Feb. 24, 2015 – Sun-Brite Foods, a company that processes and cans field crops, has pleaded guilty and has been fined $70,000 after a seasonal farm worker was critically injured.

On September 5, 2013, the seasonal farm worker was engaged in cleaning the peeler room of the company’s food processing facility. The room contains tomato-peeling machines, each with a waste chute connected to a trough. A power screw auger pushes waste material through the trough.

When the worker was cleaning the area around one of the machines, the individual attempted to step over the waste trough but a foot slipped into the trough and became caught in the auger. The worker suffered serious injuries to the foot, which had to be partially amputated.

An Ontario Ministry of Labour (MOL) investigation found that the peeler machine involved in the incident had been installed just two weeks prior. While steel mesh guards were affixed over the waste troughs of the other three machines, no guard had yet been installed on the newest machine; as such, the auger was fully exposed.

The powered auger was an in-running nip hazard which created a pinch point between the auger and the side of the trough. Section 25 of Ontario Regulation 851 – the Industrial Establishments Regulation – requires that an in-running nip hazard or any part of a machine, device or thing that may endanger the safety of any worker must be equipped with and guarded by a guard or other device that prevents access to the pinch point, noted the MOL.

The investigation found that Sun-Brite failed as an employer to ensure the measures and procedures prescribed by the regulation were followed.

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.