Ventra Group Company fined $130K after worker critically injured at manufacturing plant

Tuesday March 05, 2019
Written by Ontario Ministry of Labour/Manufacturing AUTOMATION
March 5, 2019 – Ventra Group Company has pleaded guilty to an offence by the Ontario Ministry of Labour and has been fined $130,000 after a worker was critically injured in machinery at its plant.

The offence took place September 30, 2017 at the company’s Peterborough, Ontario plant, where it is licensed to manufacture injection-moulded plastic vehicle components. Ventra Group Company is based in Nova Scotia.

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.

According to the Ontario Ministry of Labour, the incident took place when Ventra hired a contractor for industrial cleaning services at the plant.

The worker, who was alone, approached the robot cage at an injection-moulding machine, intending to enter it for cleaning.

The two robots that are located inside the cage pick, trim and place vehicle bumpers from the injection moulding machine onto a conveyor. The door to the robot cage was interlocked so as to shut both robots down upon opening the door. The interlock did not shut down the parts conveyor.

The parts conveyor was partially inside and partially outside the robot cage, and remained continuously running.

The worker entered the robot cage through the door to clean inside, and then exited to clean an area outside the cage near the conveyor.

Seeing some spent plastic pellets under the conveyor, the worker reached between existing guards on the conveyor, going beneath the conveyor to sweep the pellets with one hand.

To access the moving drive shaft area, the worker squeezed through a small gap. The worker's hair was caught by a rotating drive shaft located near the tail pulley and beneath the conveyor. The rotating drive shaft was not visible to a person standing beside the conveyor.

The worker received a critical injury but was able to move away from the machine and was eventually attended to by paramedics.

Ventra performs regular pre-start engineering reviews on its equipment as required by Occupational Health and Safety Act regulations.

As part of a pre-start review for the robots related to the injection-molding machine, Ventra had retained an engineer to examine the robots for compliance with applicable regulations and standards. The engineer considered the involved conveyor and made a recommendation for additional guarding on top of the conveyor, which Ventra followed. The existing guards at the side of the conveyor near the tail pulley allowed, albeit with some difficulty, access by the involved worker through the small gap to the area underneath the conveyor and the drive shaft.

The company pleaded guilty for failing as an employer to ensure that the machinery was equipped with guards that would prevent access to the moving part, in accordance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

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