Courts fined a meat processing company and a cleaning service company after a worker suffered injuries
Courts fined Belmont Meat Products Ltd and Betts Cleaning Specialists Ltd after a worker suffered injuries. Courts fined Belmont Meat Products Ltd $35,000 and Betts Cleaning Specialists $50,000.
How the worker suffered injuries – a background
Belmont Meat Products operates a meat processing plant in Toronto, Ontario. Moreover, it appointed Betts Cleaning Specialists through a service contract to provide the company with sanitation services. This included sanitation of production areas and the equipment used by workers at the company’s plant.
On January 20, 2017, a worker was cleaning a mixer/grinder machine at Belmont’s plant. Moreover, Betts appointed this worker as a sanitation worker at the plant. However, the machine that the worker was cleaning was partially disassembled for cleaning.
The worker was cleaning the mixer portion of the machine, which has two counter rotating paddles. At this time, the machine was turned on and its paddles were rotating. Noticing a piece of meat, the worker reached into the machine. Thus, making contact with the rotating paddles, the worker suffered injuries. These turned out to be critical injuries.
What did the Ministry of Labour (MOL) investigation reveal?
After arriving at Belmont’s plant, the MOL inspector observed that the machine involved in the incident, where the worker suffered injuries, was in operation. Moreover, the MOL inspector also observed that someone had interfered with the scene of the incident.
Here’s what Section 25(1)(c) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) says:
“An employer must ensure that the prescribed measures and procedures are carried out in the workplace.”
Betts failed as an employer to ensure that the mixer/grinder was stopped when it was being cleaned, as the worker suffered injuries owing to this reason. Further, Betts also violated Section 75 of the Industrial Establishments Regulation (Regulation 851). The regulation requires that:
“a part of a machine shall be cleaned only when motion that may endanger a worker has stopped.”
Moreover, Belmont pleaded guilty of interfering with, disturbing, or altering the scene of a critical injury before obtaining the permission to do so from a MOL inspector.
Here’s what Section 51(2) of the OHSA says in this regard:
“It requires that, where a person is killed or is critically injured at a workplace, no person shall interfere with, disturb, destroy, alter, or carry away any wreckage, article, or thing at the scene of or connected with the occurrence until permission so to do has been given by an inspector.”
How can an online management system help?
An online safety training and management system such as 4SafeCom™ can help bring your program alive. Here are some of the key advantages of having an online safety management system such as 4SafeCom™:
Review and acknowledgement of your policies and procedures by all employees
4SafeCom™ helps you to ensure that all your employees review and acknowledge your company’s policies and procedures. Therefore, the system helps you in creating vital documents that will help you prove your due diligence. In this case, the worker would not have cleaned the machine if:
- If there were specific safe operating procedures created and communicated to the worker.
- Thus, the worker would have known when it was safe to clean the machine.
From an employer’s point of view:
- The employer could have got the worker’s acknowledgement for reviewing the procedures along with a time stamp
- This would have been a vital due diligence document for the employer
- Moreover, since the worker would have been more aware of the SOPs to clean the machine, it would have reduced the chances of occurrence of such an incident
An online safety management system such as 4SafeCom™ would have also helped the employer in building a safety culture within the organization. This is largely because the employer can make the staff review and acknowledge its policies and procedures, which improves overall workplace safety awareness. In simple words, with clear SOPs in place, the worker would not have cleaned the machine. In fact, the worker would have filled out a hazard report form, clicked a picture of the machine, and sent it to his supervisor. He would have also reported the same to his supervisor in person. Thus, the employer as well as the worker would have become highly safety conscious.
Conducting online workplace inspections and tracking their progress
The ability to conduct online workplace inspections is one of the key features of 4SafeCom™. Therefore, the plant supervisor of Belmont could have used the system to conduct periodic inspections of the mixer/grinder. Moreover, the system would have allowed them to also track the progress on all the key actions items identified during the inspections. This is very useful for improving workplace safety. Further, these records will help largely in proving due diligence. The plant supervisor could have used the system for conducting and recording communication with workers in the weekly tool box meetings.
Getting workers to do site-specific orientation and reviewing their training records
Using 4SafeCom™, employers can get their employees to do a site-specific orientation before entering a site. This can be very helpful in understanding the site-specific requirements in a much clearer manner. Moreover, one of the key aspects of the 4SafeCom™ system is help you review and constantly monitor the OHS training records of your employees. In fact, when ever a training expires or is about to expire, the system will notify you. Companies can get this configured based on their requirements.
Overall, using 4SafeCom™ Safety Training and Management System will help you largely in managing and proving due diligence in an easy effective manner.