Employer failed 'to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker'
Magna International Inc., operating as Formet Industries, was fined $70,000 after one of its workers was injured after being struck by a truck frame that was being moved by a crane.
After pleading guilty, the company was also required to pay a 25-per-cent surcharge, which will be credited to a special provincial government fund to assist victims of crime.
The incident took place on Feb. 28, 2019 at the company’s 1 Cosma Court, St. Thomas plant in Ontario, where assembled truck frames exit the production line. They are then taken and moved by what is known as the unload bridge crane. An operator manually controls the crane which picks up the product and moves it to either the north side or south side 'down-stacker station.'
The area around the unload bridge crane is restricted and has vertical rows of three light beam sensors (also known as photo-eyes) at the north end and south end entry points. When these sensors are interrupted, an alarm sounds for five seconds and a warning light turns on and flashes. These devices are intended to alert the crane operator that someone has entered the restricted area. If the photo eyes are constantly blocked, the alarm will not operate again until the blockage is removed. The alarm is automatically silenced after five seconds.
On the day of the incident, the operator was in the process of moving a truck frame to the north side down-stacker station. A worker arrived to take over from the crane operator. The worker went to a safe spot located just outside of the south entrance to the restricted area. The operator was at the north-east side of the restricted area with the loaded crane between the newly-arrived worker and another worker.
The two workers made eye contact and the operator indicated to the colleague there was a spot between the north and south side down-stacker stations where the worker could put down a drink. This spot was within the restricted area, and along the crane's path of travel.
Thinking that the crane operator would wait, the worker entered the restricted area to place the drink. The crane operator, however, continued with the process of moving and placing the truck frame on the north side down-stacker, not expecting the worker to enter the restricted area and walk into the crane's path of travel. The crane operator's back was towards the south entrance of the restricted area and the loaded crane was between the crane operator and the worker. The crane operator did not see the colleague move and enter the restricted area.
As the crane was moving the truck frame, it struck and then pinned the worker against some fencing. The worker sustained injury.
Investigation by the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development found that a Pre-Start Health and Safety Review (PSR) of certain operations at Formet's St. Thomas facility was completed by Panjer Consulting Ltd. in December 2001.
Included in the PSR was an analysis of the unload bridge crane in the Post Wax Bolt-On Line 5 Area. One of the recommendations was that the audible alarm be silenced and reset through the deliberate action of the crane operator, rather than by simply shutting off automatically after five seconds. Another recommendation in the PSR was that there be signage posted clearly indicating that entry into the area within crane's range of motion was restricted.
However, the ministry's investigation found that neither of those two recommendations had been implemented.
“As such, Magna International Inc. operating as Formet Industries did commit the offence of failing, as an employer, to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker. This was contrary to section 25(2)(h) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act,” according to the Ontario government.
Previously, Select Food Products was fined $50,000 after one of its workers was injured after getting in contact with a labeler machine. Also, Robert C. Nearing Holdings Inc. was fined $60,000 after pleading guilty to one violation that caused a worker to fall through an opening on the second storey of a structure, causing injury.