Manufacturing AUTOMATION

Vinyl manufacturer fined $100K after critical worker injury

October 31, 2019
By Ontario Ministry of Labour

Canadian General-Tower Ltd., a manufacturer of pool liners and vinyl products used in the building and automotive industries, has been fined $100,000 by the Ontario Ministry of Labour after pleading guilty to an offence in which a worker was critically injured by a conveyor belt at its Cambridge, Ontario plant.

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 May 8, 2018, two workers were cleaning a section of a conveyor belt of a calender (a machine used in the production of rolled vinyl textiles).

The conveyor belt section of the machine had been unlocked from its position and oriented to allow for cleaning. A ladder was moved into position to allow the operator to clean the belt. The belt was not locked out and then energized to allow it to rotate while cleaning.

The operator began cleaning the top portion of the belt using a scraper while standing on the ladder while the other worker assisted. The assisting worker was wearing gloves and using a rag to clean the underside of the conveyor belt.

The operator left the area and the assisting worker stepped on to the second rung of the ladder to continue cleaning the underside of the belt. The belt was rotating away from the worker.

While cleaning, the assisting worker was pulled by the rotating belt into the idler roller of the conveyor and trapped.

Other workers rushed to free the injured worker, who was taken to hospital. The worker suffered critical injuries.

Following a Ministry of Labour investigation into the incident, it was determined that the employer failed to ensure that machinery was only cleaned when motion that may endanger a worker had stopped.

The company failed to ensure the measures and procedures prescribed by section 75 of the Industrial Establishments Regulation (Ontario Regulation 851) were carried out. The regulation states that “a part of a machine, transmission machinery, device or thing shall be cleaned, oiled, adjusted, repairs or have maintenance work performed on it only when motion that may endanger a worker has stopped; and any part that has been stopped and that may subsequently move and endanger a worker has been blocked to prevent its movement.”

The company had two previous convictions under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

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