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Injury at vegetable processing facility results in $80,000 fine


November 16, 2016
By Ontario Ministry of Labour

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Nov. 16, 2016 – Bonduelle Canada, owner and operator of a vegetable processing facility in southwestern Ontario, pleaded guilty and was fined $80,000 after a worker was critically injured while cleaning a conveyor belt.

The facility, located in Tecumseh, is considered an industrial establishment. On Nov. 10, 2015, a worker employed as a sanitation cleaner was cleaning a dewatering tank and conveyor. This task required rinsing the equipment with water, scrubbing the equipment, application of a foam cleaner and rinsing again. The standard operating procedures on which all sanitation employees were trained required the conveyor belt to be on and moving when spraying and rinsing was being done; however, the same procedure also required the lock-out of the conveyor belts when it was necessary for the worker to scrub anywhere near the conveyor belt. At the time of the incident, the worker had not locked out the conveyor belts.

While scrubbing the conveyor, the worker’s arm was pulled into the running conveyor belt after being caught in the pinch point created by the belt and housing. A co-worker stopped the machine and the conveyor belt was immediately dismantled to release the worker, who suffered injuries. The machine was not equipped with a guard, which would prevent access to the pinch point in question.

Section 25(1)(c) of Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) states that “an employer shall ensure that the measures and procedures prescribed are carried out in the workplace.” Section 25 of the Industrial Establishments Regulation states that “an in-running nip hazard or any part of a machine, device or thing that may endanger the safety of any worker shall be equipped with and guarded by a guard or other device that prevents access to the pinch point.” Bonduelle pleaded guilty to failing as an employer to ensure that the measures prescribed by the regulation were carried out at the workplace, contrary to the OHSA.

In addition to the $80,000 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.