Weston Bakeries fined $65K after worker injury on production line

Tuesday December 18, 2018
Written by Ontario Ministry of Labour
December 18, 2018 – Weston Bakeries Ltd., a manufacturer of fresh and frozen baked products, has been fined $65,000 in provincial offences court following a guilty plea after a worker was critically injured at its Concord, Ontario facility last summer. 

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

The incident occured on July 20, 2017. According to the Ontario Ministry of Labour's investigation, a worker started a shift as the divider line operator, which requires monitoring dough divider lines and ensuring that the dough is formed to the correct weight.

The worker noticed that there was a build-up of dough at the transition between the divider conveyor and the former conveyor. At this point, the worker used an air-line to blow the dough bits off the conveyor belt; despite these efforts, the worker was unable to remove the excess dough.

The worker then tried to brush off the dough. In doing so, the worker became caught between the transition area of the two conveyor belts and was unable to reach the emergency pull cord.

The local fire rescue service needed to take the conveyor line structure apart in order to free the worker. The worker was critically injured.

Although there was normally a guard that would have prevented this from occurring, the guard had been removed and was placed on the floor beside the divider line.

The guard was equipped with a small pressure switch that is used to interlock the cover guarding the divider former lines. When the guard is removed, the conveyor belts between the divider and former lines are supposed to shut down. The interlock pressure switch on the guard was not maintained by the employer and had not worked for years.

The Occupational Health and Safety Act stipulates that an employer must ensure equipment, materials and protective devices provided by the employer are maintained in good condition. The Ministry of Labour reports that Weston Bakeries failed to comply with that obligation by not ensuring the interlock pressure switch was maintained in good condition.

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