Nearly two years after the death of a worker at North York, Toronto-based Vinyl Window Designs Ltd., the Ministry of Labour for Ontario, Canada, issued a $165,000C ($122,619 U.S.) fine last week.
The fine came after an investigation and a guilty plea for “failing as an employer to ensure that the measures and procedures prescribed by section 24 of Regulation 851 were carried out in a workplace, contrary to section 25(1)(c) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.”
The event occurred July 18, 2017, when a worker was killed, after entering a barrier enclosure to troubleshoot a machine. The machine had not been properly locked down and disabled, a Ministry of Labour report said.
An investigation launched September 28, 2017 to assess the incident — a process they said could take months to complete.
When problems arose with a machine used for welding, fabricating and corner cleaning, the worker was summoned, according to a report published and distributed by the Ministry of Labour.
As the machine sat idle, the worker entered a fenced enclosure through an access gate, then asked the machine’s operator to place it into operation in order to advance a window unit through the unit’s feed, the report explained. As the worker applied oil to parts of the machine, the machine’s transfer arms cycled, crushing the worker against its frame, resulting in fatal injury. Following the incident, a media relations officer with the Toronto Police Service said the worker was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Among the related issues discovered by Ministry of Labour investigators were disconnected interlocks, designed to shut down the operation of the involved machine upon the opening of access gates for entry.
The gate that was used at the time of the incident was “always open,” the report said, and, at the time of the accident, was “tied back with plastic.”
Section 24 of Regulation 851, the Industrial Establishments Regulation, states “where a machine or prime mover or transmission equipment has an exposed moving part that may endanger the safety of any worker, the machine or prime mover or transmission equipment shall be equipped with and guarded by a guard or other device that prevents access to the moving part.”
Under the circumstances, regulations also require a machine’s power source be disengaged and locked out, but the machine’s power was left engaged. Meanwhile, the operator, which the Ministry of Labour’s report said was a supervisor and plant manager, was aware of the open gate, but had not received specific training on lockout procedures.
“Our number one priority is to provide a safe workplace. The tragic loss of one of our employees as a result of a workplace accident has saddened the company. Our thoughts and prayers have been with the family, friends and co-workers of the employee,” said Philip Spatafora, owner and president of Vinyl Window Designs. “For over 25 years Vinyl Window Designs has maintained an excellent health and safety record. This accident brings to the forefront the importance of constant and diligent training, and enforcement of safety protocols. At no time can a company take this responsibility for granted.”
A conviction was made April 24. In addition to the $165,000 fine, the Minitry of Labour also imposed a 25 percent victim fine surcharge, a fee that’s required by the Provincial Offenses Act. Surcharges are credited to a special provincial fund to provide assistance to victims of crime.