Two Ontario Companies Fined for Workplace Safety Violations

A plastics maker has been fined $130,000 and a hotel operator $50,000 for separate incidents that both involved violations of workplace health and safety standards.

A judge in the Ontario Court of Justice on April 15 levied a $130,000 fine against Royal Plastics Ltd., a Woodbridge, Ontario-based manufacturer of plastic, for a violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act that resulted in the death of an employee at a warehouse in Concord, Ontario.

On July 10, 2003, a worker was preparing to transport heavy bags of resin from a resin storage facility to a processing plant when the worker was found pinned partway under one of the 2,200-pound bags, according to the Ontario Ministry of Labour. The worker was pronounced dead at the scene.

Just prior to the incident the worker had been using a forklift truck to move the resin bags and was between two rows of bags stacked two-high when the truck came into contact with the lower of one set of two stacked bags, according to the ministry. When the lower bag developed a tear and resin spilled onto the floor, the worker got off the forklift truck and placed a rag into the tear to prevent further spillage. The placing of a rag in a tear was common practice at the warehouse, the ministry says.

The worker then obtained a shovel to clean up the spilled resin. Some time later the worker was found by a co-worker under the upper of the two stacked bags. Although there were no eyewitnesses to the incident, it is believed the tear in the lower bag caused the resin to drain much like an hourglass and, as it drained, the heavy bag on top became unstable and fell a distance of about 4 feet onto the deceased worker, according to the ministry.

Royal Plastics Limited pleaded guilty, as an employer, to failing to provide information, instruction and supervision on safe procedures for handling, storing, moving, repairing and/or otherwise dealing with torn or ruptured bags of resin. This was a violation of Section 25(2)(a) of the act.

The fine was imposed by Justice of the Peace Douglas Clark of the Ontario Court of Justice in Newmarket. In addition, the court imposed a 25-percent victim fine surcharge, as required by the Provincial Offences Act. The surcharge is credited to a special provincial government fund to assist victims of crime.

Hotel Operator Fined $50,000 After Employee Was Burned

A judge in the Ontario Court of Justice on April 14 issued a $50,000 fine to Queen's Landing Inn Ltd., which operates a hotel in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario., for a violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act that resulted in burns to an employee.

On Jan. 30, 2003, a kitchen worker at Queen's Landing Inn was performing kitchen cleanup duties when the worker slipped and fell in hot oil, according to the Ontario Ministry of Labour.

The incident occurred after the worker carried a half-filled pot of hot oil to an outside balcony door and placed the pot on the floor. Holding the door open with one foot, the worker picked up the pot and stepped outside. The worker slipped, spilled the oil and fell backward onto the oil-covered balcony, the ministry says.

The worker received burns to the hands, arms and back.

After a Ministry of Labour investigation, the agency alleged that the workplace did not have any written policies and procedures in place for the safe handling and disposal of hot cooking oil.

Queen's Landing Inn Ltd. pleaded guilty, as an employer, to failing to take the reasonable precaution of having written policies and procedures implemented in the workplace on the safe handling and disposal of hot cooking oil/grease. This was a violation of Section 25(2)(h) of the act.

The fine was imposed by Justice of the Peace Paul Welsh of the Ontario Court of Justice in St. Catharines. In addition, the court imposed a 25-percent victim fine surcharge, as required by the Provincial Offences Act.

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