Meat processing company, cleaning service fined in worker injury

Thursday June 28, 2018
Written by Ontario Ministry of Labour
Jun. 28, 2018 - Following guilty pleas, Belmont Meat Products was fined $35,000 and Betts Cleaning Specialists was fined $50,000 by Justice of the Peace Keon Lee after a worker who was cleaning a mixer/grinder machine was critically injured by a partly disassembled machine.

Belmont Meat Products operates a meat processing plant. The company engaged Betts Cleaning Specialists under a service contract to provide sanitation services, including sanitation of production areas and equipment, at the plant. On January 20, 2017, a worker employed by Betts as a sanitation worker was cleaning a mixer/grinder machine at the plant. The machine had been partially disassembled for cleaning.

The worker was cleaning the mixer portion of the machine, which has two counter rotating paddles. The machine was turned on at this time and the paddles were rotating. The worker noticed a piece of meat and reached into the machine, making contact with the rotating paddles. The worker was critically injured and taken by ambulance to hospital for medical treatment.

The Ontario Ministry of Labour was notified of the incident later that morning. When the Ministry of Labour inspector arrived at the plant, the involved machine was in operation and the scene of the incident had been interfered with.

Section 25(1)(c) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) requires that an employer ensure the prescribed measures and procedures are carried out in the workplace. Betts pleaded guilty to failing as an employer to ensure the mixer/grinder was stopped when it was being cleaned. Section 75 of the Industrial Establishments Regulation (Regulation 851) requires that a part of a machine shall be cleaned only when motion that may endanger a worker has stopped.

Belmont pleaded guilty to having interfered with, disturbed or altered the scene of a critical injury before permission to do so was given by an inspector. Section 51(2) of the OHSA requires that, where a person is killed or is critically injured at a workplace, “no person shall... interfere with, disturb, destroy, alter or carry away any wreckage, article or thing at the scene of or connected with the occurrence until permission so to do has been given by an inspector.”

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.

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