Stelco fined $200K after Kirk Moore died alone on a conveyor belt

'Ongoing battle to make sure our members are safe' says union head

Stelco fined $200K after Kirk Moore died alone on a conveyor belt

Another company has been fined in the death of a worker, and the union says while no amount of money can come close to the value of a human life, it doesn’t think the fine imposed will serve as a deterrent to prevent future incidents, similar to this one that saw a worker die alone on a conveyor belt.

“It doesn’t seem significant enough to be a true deterrent…to make sure Stelco or any other employer better protects their employees” says Ron Wells, president of the United Steelworkers Local 1005.

Stelco has been ordered to pay a $200,000 fine after pleading guilty to one charge under the Occupational Health and Safety Act in the death of 66-year-old Kirk Moore in January 2022.

Moore was “working a long in the coal handling area of the plant and noticed a conveyor belt was slipping off its pulley,” reads a Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development news release. It goes on to explain that it is believed Moore grabbed an adhesion spray and applied it between the belt and the pulley while the conveyor belt was still moving.

“It grabbed on to him and pulled him into the system,” explains Wells, “and there wasn't proper guarding to prevent him from him reaching there.” Moore was discovered about three hours later by a supervisor.  

The MLITSD investigation “revealed the conveyor was in motion without a guard to prevent access to the head end of the machine at the time of the incident.”

Despite the lack of guarding, the one charge Stelco pleaded guilty to is related to a lack of procedure. “Stelco Inc. did not ensure there was a means to safely apply belt dressing while the conveyor was in motion, as required under section 196(2)(a) of Ontario Regulation 854, Mines and Mining Plants, contrary to section 25(1)(c) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.”

The MLITSD says Stelco has improved lone worker policies and enhanced machine guarding at its Hamilton and Lake Erie sites.

Wells says proper guarding mechanisms have since been installed on the machinery in question as well as other pieces of equipment at the Hamilton site. But there’s still been more accidents at the location since Moore’s death according to Wells.

“We've had a few serious incidents since then…luckily no one was killed, but there were some fairly serious injuries,” reveals Well, who describes one incident at the same facility involving a remote crane that malfunctioned injuring two employees. “They had some fairly serious injuries.”

While Moore’s death was the first fatal incident at Stelco’s plant in Hamilton in 18 years, it’s not the first for Stelco in Ontario. Gabriel Cabral, a 32-year-old sheet metal worker died in May 2023, three weeks after suffering burns to 70 percent of his body while doing his job at Stelco’s Lake Erie Works.

“It’s an ongoing battle to make sure our members are safe at work,” says Wells, who believes Stelco does take health and safety seriously, “but we probably take it more serious…we’re not worried about profits before safety.”

Wells questions whether Stelco, a company valued at $2.2 billion, will feel the punitive effects of a $200,000 fine.