“Critical worker injury” results in $54,500 fine for food processor
Nov. 3, 2016 - Southcoast IQF, a company that operates a vegetable processing, freezing and packaging facility in southwestern Ontario, pleaded guilty and was fined $54,500 after a worker received a critical injury from the cutting blades of a dicer.
On Nov. 6, 2014, four workers were processing mushrooms in the production room of the plant in Delhi, Ont. This required working with two pieces of equipment, an auger conveyor and a cutter. Workers manually fed raw mushrooms onto the conveyor which carried them up and dropped them into the intake chute of the cutter located at the top of the machine. The mushrooms fall down through the moving wheel that feeds mushrooms into a fixed hole and then exit through a chute and into a bin.
One worker was feeding the mushrooms into the auger while another was in charge of ensuring the intake hopper and the exit chute did not become jammed up with mushrooms. When a jam occurred, the worker in charge of the intake hopper and exit was required to stick a piece of PVC pipe into the hopper or chute to loosen the mushrooms. This was done while the blades were still in motion.
On this occasion, when climbing up to clear the jam at the entry chute, a worker slipped and made contact with the blades of the cutter, suffering permanent injuries.
The investigation by the Ontario Ministry of Labour revealed that the exit chute was not equipped with a guard or other device to protect workers from the exposed moving blade. Section 24 of Ontario Regulation 851 - the Industrial Establishments Regulation - provides that where a machine has an exposed moving part that may endanger the safety of any workers, the machine shall be equipped with and guarded by a guard or other device that prevents access to the moving part.
The company failed as an employer to ensure that the equipment, materials and protective devices prescribed by Ontario Regulation 851 were provided, contrary to Section 25(1)(a)of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA).
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.
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