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Magna subsidiary fined $70K after worker struck by truck frame


An Ontario manufacturer has been fined $70,000 in provincial court after pleading guilty to an incident that resulted in a worker being struck by an object.

Magna International Inc., operating as Formet Industries in St. Thomas, Ont., manufactures full chassis frames, front module assemblies, bumpers, side impact beams and rocker panels for the automotive industry.

The court also imposed a 25-per-cent victim fine surcharge, credited to a special provincial government fund to assist victims of crime.

An investigation by the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development revealed that on Feb. 28, 2019, an incident took place in an area of the plant known as the Post Wax Bolt-On Line 5.

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At that location, assembled truck frames exit the production line. They are then taken and moved by what is known as the unload bridge crane.

An operator manually controls the crane. The crane picks up the product and moves it to either the north side or south side “down-stacker station.” This motion is a programmed path that the crane follows on its own. The operator initiates the motion and has control over it.

Once the product being moved is at the designated down-stacker, the operator lowers the crane and stacks the frame on the pallet. The crane is then moved back to its home position.

The area around the unload bridge crane is restricted and has vertical rows of three light beam sensors (also known as photo-eyes) at the north end and south end entry points. When these sensors are interrupted, an alarm sounds for five seconds and a warning light turns on and flashes. The alarm is automatically silenced after five seconds.

These devices are intended to alert the crane operator that someone has entered the restricted area. If the photo eyes are constantly blocked (for example, by an object that remains in front of them), the alarm will not operate again until the blockage is removed.

On the date of the incident, the operator of the unload bridge crane picked up a truck frame and was in the process of moving it to the north side down-stacker station. A co-worker arrived to take over from the crane operator.

The co-worker went to a safe spot located just outside of the south entrance to the restricted area. The operator was at the north-east side of the restricted area with the loaded crane between the two workers.

The two workers made eye contact and the operator indicated to the colleague there was a spot between the north and south side down-stacker stations where the worker could put down a drink. This spot was within the restricted area, and along the crane’s path of travel.

Thinking that the crane operator would wait, the co-worker entered the restricted area to place the drink. The crane operator, however, continued with the process of moving and placing the truck frame on the north side down-stacker, not expecting the co-worker to enter the restricted area and walk into the crane’s path of travel.

The crane operator’s back was towards the south entrance of the restricted area and the loaded crane was between the crane operator and the co-worker. The crane operator did not see the colleague move and enter the restricted area.

As the crane was moving the truck frame, it struck and then pinned the co-worker against some fencing. The co-worker sustained injury.

The ministry found that a Pre-Start Health and Safety Review (PSR) of certain operations at Formet’s St. Thomas facility was completed by Panjer Consulting Ltd. in December 2001.

Included in the PSR was an analysis of the unload bridge crane in the Post Wax Bolt-On Line 5 Area. One of the recommendations was that the audible alarm be silenced and reset through the deliberate action of the crane operator, rather than by simply shutting off automatically after five seconds.

Another recommendation in the PSR was that there be signage posted clearly indicating that entry into the area within crane’s range of motion was restricted.

The ministry’s investigation found that neither of those two recommendations had been implemented.

As a result, the manufacturer was in contravention of the Occupational Health and Safety Act for not taking every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect the worker.