SMC (Canada) Ltd., a company that extracts and recovers precious metals in mining mills near Cobalt, Ontario was fined $75,000 after an employee became entangled in a moving conveyor.
SMC (Canada) Ltd. operates a custom feed milling operation called McAlpine Mill near the town of Cobalt.
On February 7, 2019, a worker was assigned to work in the crusher house where ore is moved through the crushing process on various conveyors before being processed in the mill.
A conveyor belt in the crusher house was being started up for the day and was not working properly. When a conveyor belt slips and does not work as intended, a belt dressing spray is applied to improve traction and to ensure the conveyor does not slip.
The worker was asked by a millwright to go to the head end of the conveyor to apply belt dressing to help address the slipping belt.
The worker was not given specific instructions on how to complete this task and was not directed to a designated location where the spray could be applied in a safe manner while the belt was running. Also, the head pulley area of the conveyor was not equipped with a guard to protect a worker from a pinch point.
The worker stood near the head pulley and applied a spray product while the belt was in motion. The worker was standing on a small mound of spilled loose gravel while completing this task.
While repositioning the product from one hand to the other, the worker lost footing and slipped towards the running belt, becoming entangled between the running belt and the conveyor frame. The worker suffered a critical injury as a result. The injury required transportation to Sudbury for medical attention.
Following a guilty plea, SMC (Canada) Ltd. was fined $75,000 in provincial offences court in Haileybury, Ontario. The court also 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.
The court ruled that the defendant failed to have a means to safely apply belt dressing while the conveyor was in motion as required by subsection 196(2) of the Mines and Mining Plants Regulation (Regulation 854) and thereby violated paragraph 25(1)(c) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.