PETERBOROUGH, Ont. – Ventra Group Company was fined $130,000 after a guilty plea in the case of a worker who got caught in machinery at its plant in Peterborough, Ontario.
Ventra Group Company is a Nova Scotia corporation registered to conduct business in Ontario. Its Peterborough plant manufactures injection moulded plastic vehicle components.
On September 30, 2017 an employee of a cleaning service contracted by Ventra was working alone, cleaning the area around various injection moulding machines. The worker approached the robot cage at an injection moulding machine, intending to enter for cleaning purposes.
Two robots located inside the cage pick, trim and place vehicle bumpers from the injection moulding machine onto a conveyor. The door to the robot cage was interlocked so as to shut both robots down upon opening the door. The interlock did not shut down the parts conveyor. The parts conveyor was partially inside and partially outside the robot cage, and remained continuously running.
The worker entered the robot cage through the door to clean inside, and then exited to clean an area outside the cage near the conveyor. Seeing some spent plastic pellets under the conveyor, the worker reached between existing guards on the conveyor, and was placed beneath the conveyor to sweep the pellets with one hand.
To access the moving drive shaft area, the worker squeezed through a small gap. The worker’s hair was caught by a rotating drive shaft located near the tail pulley and beneath the conveyor. The rotating drive shaft was not visible to a person standing beside the conveyor.
The worker received a critical injury but was able to move away from the machine and was eventually attended to by paramedics.
Ventra performs regular pre-start engineering reviews on its equipment as required by Occupational Health and Safety Act regulations. As part of a pre-start review for the robots related to the injection molding machine, Ventra had retained an engineer to examine the robots for compliance with applicable regulations and standards. The engineer considered the involved conveyor and made a recommendation for additional guarding on top of the conveyor, which Ventra followed. In fact, the existing guards at the side of the conveyor near the tail pulley allowed, albeit with some difficulty, access by the involved worker through the small gap to the area underneath the conveyor and the drive shaft.
The company pleaded guilty for failing as an employer to ensure that the measures and procedures prescribed by section 24 of Ontario Regulation 851 – the Industrial Establishments Regulation – were carried out in a workplace, contrary to section 25(1)(c) of the OHSA. The regulation states that “where a machine or prime mover or transmission equipment has an exposed moving part that may endanger the safety of any worker, the machine or prime mover or transmission equipment shall be equipped with and guarded by a guard or other device that prevents access to the moving part.”
On conviction the court also imposed a 25-per-cent 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.