Two workers suffer amputations as a result of inadequate machine guarding, training

Thursday May 26, 2016
Written by Ontario Ministry of Labour
May 26, 2016 - A meat processing plant in Ajax, Ont., has pleaded guilty and fined $82,500 for two separate incidents in which workers suffered hand injuries.

D & S Meat Products Ltd., operating as Elite Meats, operates a facility at 220 Clements Road in Ajax. On May 26, 2014, a worker was assigned the task of loading frozen blocks of meat into a grinder machine. One block was too frozen to be drawn into the grinder machine by the rotating feedscrew. When the worker pushed down on the block of meat, the meat suddenly moved and the worker’s hand was pulled down into the hopper toward the feedscrew; as a result the worker suffered a partial amputation.

An Ontario Ministry of Labour (MOL) investigation determined the grinder machine was not equipped with a guard to prevent access to the rotating feedscrew at the time of the incident. As such, D & S failed as an employer to ensure the grinder machine’s exposed moving part was equipped with a guard, contrary to Ontario’s Industrial Establishments Regulation and the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA).

On July 7, 2015, a worker at the facility attempted to replace a plug underneath a corkscrew conveyor attached to a meat grinder machine, and according to the MOL, the corkscrew conveyor was not stopped, turned off or locked out at the time.

Before the worker attempted to replace the plug in the bottom of the corkscrew conveyor, the worker tried to clean out the plug hole where ground meat had been exiting. In so doing, the worker’s hand made contact with the rotating screw auger of the corkscrew conveyor; as a result, the worker suffered amputations.

The ministry determined that at the time of the incident, the corkscrew conveyor was not stopped, turned off or locked out as required. The investigation also determined that no written safety procedures for the corkscrew conveyor existed, and the grinder machine operator had not been trained on the proper use and function of the control panel for the corkscrew conveyor.

As such, D & S failed as an employer to ensure that the motion of a screw auger in a corkscrew conveyor was stopped before a worker attempted to replace a plug at the base of the corkscrew conveyor, contrary to the Industrial Establishments Regulation and the OHSA. In this incident the company also failed as an employer to provide information, instruction and supervision to a worker on the proper use and function of the control panel for the corkscrew conveyor at the workplace, contrary to the OHSA.

The company was fined a total of $82,500, and in addition to the fines, 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.

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