Inside Logistics

Automation firm guilty, fined in worker death

Access Limited fined $130,000 after work dies in metal stamping press

July 23, 2019

BARRIE, Ontario – After a guilty plea Access Limited, a Japan-based engineering company that develops, designs and manufactures automation equipment for automated press and machine lines and provides production start-up and service support, was fined $130,000 in Ontario court.

On the evening of August 30, 2017, two workers employed by Access Limited were assisting with the installation of a new metal stamping press and feeder at a construction project located within an auto parts manufacturing facility in Tottenham, Ontario.

It was  determined it would be safer to do so overnight when the equipment was not being operated by press technicians.

The power to the press machine was turned off but a piece of equipment known as a ‘destacker feeder’ remained powered and operational.

One of the workers briefly left the work area in the early hours of August 31 and observed the other worker performing diagnostic testing at the destacker feeder control panel.

Upon returning, the worker discovered the victim’s body positioned in front of a part of the destacker feeder known as the ‘DB bucket car.’ This car is a small mechanized cart which travels along rails. There is fencing surrounding the loading area for the bucket car which has an opening that allows the car to leave the loading area to the unloading area.

The worker’s body was found pinned between the edge of the bucket car and the frame of the fencing that surrounds the bucket car opening.

There were no witnesses.

The Ministry of Labour investigated the incident and determined the likely cause of the fatality was that while the worker was  present within the fenced area, the bucket car started and moved along the rail towards the opening of the fence and the worker.

The investigation also revealed that safety interlock circuits were installed around the bucket car. If the fence door to the loading area is open or not present, the safety interlock circuits would be triggered and the bucket car would be prevented from moving. However, these safety interlock circuits had been overridden. The investigation did not reveal who overrode the interlock circuits or why.

Section 25(2)(h) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act requires an employer to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker.

The investigation determined that a reasonable precaution would have been to ensure control switches or mechanisms for the bucket car were locked out to prevent the starting of the bucket car where the starting of the car may endanger a worker. It was found that there were no other effective precautions taken by the company to prevent the starting of the bucket car where a worker may be endangered by such movement.

As such, Access Limited failed to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances, contrary to section 25(2)(h) of the act.

In addition to the fine, 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.