Maple Leaf Foods fined $200,000 over serious employee injuries

Maple Leaf Foods fined $200,000 over serious employee injuries

Maple Leaf Foods fined $200,000 over serious employee injuries

Failure to protect workers from injuries caused while clearing jammed machines has resulted in fines of more than $200,000 for prominent Canadian food producer Maple Leaf Foods. The fines were announced this week, two years after the incidents took place.

In the first case, in June 2010, a Kitchener-based worker reached inside a machine to clear a jam. Once the jam was cleared, the machine activated and crushed the worker's arm. The investigation found the machine was still running, instead of having its moving parts stopped and blocked before the worker tried to clear the jam.

“Maple Leaf Foods Inc. was fined $100,000 for failing to ensure that the jam was removed only when motion that could endanger the worker was stopped and the machine's moving parts were blocked,” a Government of Ontario release said.

In December of the same year, at the same factory, another worker was checking a machine to make sure sanitary standards were met before work began for the day. The worker saw a piece of plastic wrap stuck in the machine's conveyor system and reached in to remove the plastic wrap. The conveyor activated when the debris was removed, catching the worker's glove and pulling the worker's hand into the equipment.

See also: Onerous OHSA duties see more than $200k in fines

The worker had not been instructed on the proper procedures for removing debris from the machine and had never been taught how to effectively lock out power to the machine.

Maple Leaf Foods Inc. was fined another $100,000 for failing to ensure that the worker was provided information, instruction and supervision on the safe procedures for cleaning and locking out the machine.

On top of the $200,000 fines, both also carry a 25% victim fine surcharge, which goes towards a provincial fund to assist victims of crime.

Two other cases were announced this week, including a $70,000 fine for Northstar Hospitality after a worker was injured at the Toronto Hilton.

In August 2011, a worker was doing a weekly test of the Toronto Hilton's emergency generator equipment. The worker saw a leak under the radiator at the back of the generator and leaned over near the fan box to get a better look. The worker's hand inadvertently entered an opening at the bottom of the fan box and the worker's fingers were amputated.

Northstar Hospitality GP Inc. pleaded guilty to failing to ensure that the generator was guarded to prevent access to its moving parts.

In the final case, a Gormley, Ontario, construction company was fined $90,000 after a worker was seriously injured after being struck by a pile that came loose from the frame it was welded to.