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Toronto metal processor fined $150K after worker fatality


October 31, 2019
By Ontario Ministry of Labour

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Venture Steel Inc., a metal processor and distributor, has been fined $150,000 by the Ontario Ministry of Labour after pleading guilty to charges involving a worker fatality at its Toronto-area facility.

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.

On October 4, 2017, a Venture Steel worker was engaged in the task of separating steel coils and preparing them for packaging and shipment.

The worker was working on a particular “slitter line,” which is an arrangement of machines used to slit one master steel coil into smaller or narrower ones. Steel coils strapped with metal banding are transferred by coil car onto one of four arms of a transfer turret called a turnstile.

A device called the downender is critical to the movement of the coils. It is a roller conveyor mounted on a pivoting frame in either a vertical or horizontal position. In the vertical position, it receives the steel coils, then pivots to the horizontal to transfer the coil to a conveyor.

It appears that the worker was preparing to package a steel coil. At this point the downender was in the horizontal position.

The worker operated the control panel to bring the downender to the upright position, which triggered an automatic extension toward the turnstile’s arm. The worker was in the working space and was trapped and pinched.

Other workers freed the worker by pressing the E-stop button on the machine. The worker was taken to hospital but succumbed to the injuries.

There were no safety devices such as guards, light curtains or mats in place to prevent access to the unguarded pinch point hazard created by the horizontal movement of the machine. It was observed in a surveillance video that the downender machine was in motion at the time of the incident and not blocked or locked out in any way.

There is another similar line in the workplace where a safety mat is installed to prevent access to the same type of pinch point.

At the time of the incident, a guarding plan for the slitter line was produced for the (then) Ministry of Labour’s occupational health and safety inspector but this had not yet been implemented.

Section 24 of the Industrial Establishments Regulation (Ontario Regulation 851) requires that “where a machine has an exposed moving part that may endanger the safety of any worker, the machine shall be equipped with and guarded by a guard or other device that prevents access to the moving part.”

In this case, Venture Steel did not ensure that the hazard to worker safety created by the machine in question was guarded to prevent access.