Canadian food firm fined after meat blade injury
The Waterloo-based company, from Canada’s most populous province Ontario, pleaded guilty on 1 May 2017 and was fined CA$55,000 after one unnamed worker was injured by a machine blade.
Sunwest Food Processors is a mid-sized business making battered and breaded meats, cheeses, seafood and vegetable substrates at a factory in Waterloo.
The injury happened on 1 June 2016, after an employee was injured using a meat-forming machine – an industrial-scale instrument used to form patties from minced meat.
Health and safety retraining
The meat former has a hopper – used to feed meat down a spiral feed drill-like auger. At the bottom of the hopper is a rotor, which has six steel blades used to cut meat into smaller portions.
Ontario’s Provincial Offences Court in Kitchener heard that the worker used a ladder to climb above the hopper and noticed that not all of the meat had been processed. With the machine still running, the worker reached inside the hopper and pushed down the remaining meat.
The machine’s rotor caught and one of the sharp steel blades caused injuries not specified in a court bulletin published by Ontario’s Ministry of Labour
Since the incident, the court was told Sunwest Food Processors has run extra health and safety training for employees, supervisors and managers on hazards associated with industrial machinery. The business is also hiring a health and safety officer this year.
The conviction is the first one for the company under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA).
Sunwest Food Processors was fined under a subsection of the OHSA. The subsection requires companies to ensure all prescribed measures and procedures are carried out in a workplace. One measure, section 75 of Regulation 851 pertaining to industrial regulation, rules “part of a machine… shall only be cleaned, oiled, adjusted, repaired or have maintenance work performed on it only when [a] motion that may endanger a worker is stopped”.
In addition to the CA$55,000 fine, Justice of the Peace Adriana Magoulas imposed a 25% victim surcharge under the Provincial Offences Act.