A Kitchener, Ontario cracker manufacturer, BFG Canada Ltd., pleaded guilty recently and was fined $110,000 for an incident that occurred on Dec. 5, 2014, in which a worker’s hand was pulled into a machine, causing him to suffer permanent injuries.
The incident occurred at the company’s Kitchener manufacturing facility, which included an incline conveyor system that is used to cool the crackers after baking and move them through the processing line. The conveyor system was driven by a powered roller that was about two metres wide and which rotated counter-clockwise in order to pull the conveyor belt forward. One centimetre from that powered roller was an additional roller that rotated in the opposite direction to guide the belt, which created a pinch point.
The day of the accident, the powered roller had been slipping and was unable to move the conveyor belt forward, so a worker was instructed by a BFG supervisor to troubleshoot and repair the problem. Without disabling the machine, the worker saw a piece of grip tape that had been sticking out from the edge of the powered roller, about a foot from the pinch point, and when he tried to grab the grip tape to tear it off the roller, his hand was pulled into the pinch point, injuring him.
Soon after the accident, the worker was able to shut off the machine, but it took emergency personnel almost 40 minutes to free him from the machine completely. Soon after, he was transported to hospital, where he was treated for serious injuries. He now suffers permanent restrictions as a result.
After a thorough investigation by the Ontario Ministry of Labour, the company was charged with failing to ensure a guard or other device was in place on the conveyor system to protect a worker from an in-running nip hazard as required by Section 25 of the Industrial Establishments Regulation, which was a violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. After pleading guilty, BFG Canada Ltd. was then fined $110,000 by Justice of the Peace Adriana Magoulas, who also imposed the 25 per-cent victim fine surcharge, making the total hit against the company $137,500, simply because it had not trained workers to lock out conveyors before trying to troubleshoot problems.