Two workers die, employer fined $700,000

One worker struck by a tractor-trailer, the other pinned against moving machinery

Two workers die, employer fined $700,000
The employer was fined $325,000 for the first incident that took place on Oct. 25, 2018.

2168587 Ontario Ltd., operating as Upper Crust, was fined a total of $700,000 after two of its workers died in separate injuries in 2018 and 2019.

The employer was fined $325,000 for the first incident that took place on Oct. 25, 2018, when a temporary help agency employee was working as a general production worker on the bread assembly line at the company’s 55 Canarctic Drive location.

The worker had completed a work shift and left the building. Closed-circuit television (CCTV) security video recorded the worker wearing a white lab coat crouched against the exterior wall of the building, below the edge of one of the loading docks, smoking and using a cell phone.

The worker remained in that position without moving for eight minutes, during which time a tractor-trailer arrived to be loaded with bakery products.

Before reversing into the loading dock bay, the driver reported exiting the truck, opening the rear trailer doors, looking in the direction of the loading dock, and sounding the horn twice. The tractor-trailer was also equipped with red lights visible from the rear during reversing and an audible back-up beeping alarm that was operating at the time of the incident.

The driver proceeded to reverse slowly toward the loading dock, briefly pausing twice, until contact was made with the exterior wall of the loading dock, fatally injuring the worker between the truck and the wall.

Police confirmed the reversing safety devices on the tractor-trailer were operational at the time of the incident, and that the external lighting in the loading bay area was within acceptable limits, according to a Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development ergonomist.

There were signs stating Do Not Enter and No Trespassing in the loading bay area, but there were no signs, barriers or other safeguards alerting pedestrians or workers to the danger of reversing vehicles in the loading bay. Other workers had previously been observed standing at the corner of the loading bay.

Sufficient barriers, warning signs or other safeguards for the protection of all workers in an area where vehicle or pedestrian traffic may endanger the safety of any worker were not in place, a violation against section 25(1) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act and section 20 of Ontario Regulation 851 (the Industrial Establishments Regulation).

After the incident, the company installed additional signs alerting pedestrians to the danger of reversing vehicles in the loading bay, developed and implemented a traffic plan, and painted safety markings on the pavement, all in response to orders from the ministry.

The company also removed the cigarette butt disposal and the garbage pail from the loading bay area, relocated the designated smoking area to a different area of the property and built a roofed structure at the relocated smoking area to encourage use. The company also installed a physical barrier at the loading bay.

Second fatality

Meanwhile, Upper Crust was fined another $375,000 for an incident that took place on Sept. 25, 2019 at its 60 Marmora Street location, also in Ontario.

On that day, a worker entered the area where the autoloader – a moving conveyor belt that transfers bagels from one conveyor to another – and the infeed conveyor – which carries the bagels to the boiler – were located through a removed panel in the barrier fencing while the equipment was in operation.

The worker was sweeping fallen corn meal from below the autoloader. The worker became trapped and was pinched between the leading edge or “nose” of the autoloader and the infeed conveyor when the autoloader activated.

There were no eyewitnesses but the incident was recorded by CCTV.

Before the worker entered the perimeter fencing the machine should have been stopped and all sources of power should have been turned off/disconnected and locked out. However, the company’s paper-based pre-operational safety checklists did not record that a panel of the perimeter fencing had been removed.

Allowing a worker to have access to an unguarded machine with potential pinch points is an offence contrary to section 25(1) of the OHSA and section 25 of Regulation 851.

Two other companies were recently fined for the death of workers. Pneu Estrimont Inc. was fined after one of its workers died from an exploding tire accident, and Le Groupe Neault was fined after one of its workers was killed in an electrocution accident.