Ontario window manufacturer fined $165K after worker fatality
April 26, 2019 – A Toronto window manufacturer has been fined $165,000 by the Ontario Ministry of Labour after pleading guilty to an offence involving a worker fatality at its plant.
Vinyl Window Designs Ltd. was fined Apr. 24 by Justice Katrina Mulligan in Toronto's Old City Hall court. The court also 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.
The incident occured July 18, 2017, when the operator of a machine that performed welding, fabrication and corner cleaning found that there were problems with the operation of the machine at the transfer area where windows moved into the corner cleaner. Another worker was summoned to troubleshoot the situation.
The machine was surrounded by a fenced enclosure. The worker entered the enclosure through a gate. The line was not running in operation mode at the time.
The worker asked the operator to put the line into operation mode to run a window through the infeed.
While the worker was spraying oil on parts of the machine, the machine's transfer arms cycled, crushing the worker against the frame of the machine. The worker died from the injury.
The barrier enclosure of the involved machine had gaps at the northeast and southeast ends of the machine which enabled a worker to access the operating area of the machine; these gaps were not the designated access points.
There were access gates to the area on the east and west sides of the enclosure. Each gate was equipped with an interlock device, designed to shut down the operational components of the machine upon the opening of the gate. However, the interlocks were disconnected from the machine.
The gate through which the deceased worker entered was always open, and at the time of the incident was tied back with plastic to keep it open.
Apart from the disabled interlock devices, the machine did not have its power source disengaged and locked out as required by regulation. There was a lockout procedure in place at the time of the incident.
The operator, a supervisor and the plant manager, who were at the opposite end of the machine near the operator's station at the time of the incident, were aware of the open gate but had not received specific training on lockout procedures.
The Industrial Establishments Regulation states that "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."
Vinyl Windows Designs Ltd. pleaded guilty to failing as an employer to ensure that the measures and procedures prescribed by the regulation were carried out in a workplace, contrary to the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
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