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Worker suffers loss of fingers; meat processor fined $65K


May 4, 2016
By Ontario Ministry of Labour

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May 4, 2016 – Cargill Limited, operating as Cargill Value Added Meats, pleaded guilty and has been fined $65,000 after a worker suffered the loss of fingers to exhaust fan blades.

On June 7, 2013, at the company’s facility in Brampton, Ont., a worker was operating the ground beef pressing equipment that makes meat into patties before they enter the freezing conveyor. The meat patties, while being transported through the conveyor’s flash/freeze section, are sprayed with liquid nitrogen, creating a mist that exits through exhaust pipes located on the roof of the building. During the operation of the conveyor, the nitrogen — along with small pieces of ground beef — can freeze in the exhaust pipes. In turn, this can cause a build-up of ice at the opening of the exhaust pipes on the roof of the building, notes the Ontario Ministry of Labour (MOL), adding that maintenance workers would then normally use a rubber mallet to bang the exhaust pipe to clear any ice jams.

While attempting to clear the ice jam in the exhaust pipe, the worker put one hand in the pipe; the exhaust fan blades amputated several fingers, among other injuries, according to the MOL.

In this incident, Cargill Limited committed the offence of failing as an employer to provide information, instruction and supervision to the worker to protect the health or safety of the worker, which is contrary to Section 25(2)(a) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, says the ministry.

Following a guilty plea, the company was fined $65,000 on April 12, 2016. In addition to the fine, the court 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.