Salt mine operator Sifto Canada fined $140K after worker's death

A salt mine operator in Sarnia has been ordered to pay $140,000 in fines for violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, after a worker asphyxiated in one of the salt domes the company operates in Goderich, Ont.
Sifto Canada Corp. in Sarnia, Ont., was fined $140,000 for a violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act after the death of one of its workers in 2009, the Ministry of Labour reported.

Sifto Canada operates a salt mine in Goderich, Ont., where the worker was killed while working in one of Sifto Canada's salt dome.

In addition to an underground mine, Sifto's Goderich property contains large domes in which salt is stored before being loaded onto ships or railcars. There are open grates in the floors of the storage domes. These allow the salt to flow down onto conveyors leading to the loading area.

On August 25, 2009, a worker was using an excavator to move salt within a dome. The excavator broke down and a maintenance person was called for repairs. While waiting for the repair person, the worker exited the cab of the excavator and began clearing salt from the machine. At this time, the conveyor under the dome started moving and salt began falling through the grate in the floor of the dome. The worker was pulled through the grate with the moving salt and asphyxiated.

Sifto Canada Corp. pleaded guilty to failing, as an employer, to ensure that the grate in the bottom of the dome was guarded to prevent a worker from being drawn in.

The fine was imposed by Justice of the Peace Robert Seneshen. 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.