Norbord Inc. has been fined $65,000 after a worker was injured by an unguarded strapping machine. Norbord is a Toronto, Ontario-based company that produces wood-based products, including Oriented Strand Board (OSB), a type of engineered wood.
The injury happened on October 23, 2018 at a mill operated by Norbord Inc. in Berwick, Ontario, in the Rainy River area.
A strapping machine automatically applies strapping to bundles of newly produced OSB for shipment. Dunnage, as well as edge protectors are also automatically put in place to protect against damage.
In automatic mode, a programmable logic controller (PLC) starts a conveyor that moves the bundle into the strapping machine. When the sensors signal to the PLC that the bundle is in the correct position, the PLC stops the conveyor. The PLC then energizes a ram to push the dunnage into position under the bundle.
When the dunnage is in the correct position, it contacts something known as the “flop gate” or actuator which has a sensor connected to the PLC. The top portion of the strapping machine (the platen) then hydraulically lowers to compress the bundle; strapping is applied around the bundle, dunnage and edge protectors. The conveyor then moves the bundle forward and the process is repeated for a second strap on the bundle.
The strapping machine was running in automatic mode when it suddenly stopped after moving an OSB bundle into position. A worker approached the front of the machine to investigate and troubleshoot the problem.
The worker discovered that an edge protector had fallen and was preventing the movement of the flop gate/actuator. Since the flop gate/actuator wasn’t in the expected position, the PLC didn’t receive the signal required to proceed further.
The worker bent over to pick up the edge protector from where it had fallen. As soon as the edge protector was removed, the flop gate/actuator moved, which caused the PLC to receive the signal to proceed with the strapping operation. The platen lowered and the worker was caught between the bundle and the platen, suffering an injury.
An investigation of the incident by the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development found that there were no guards or other devices in place to prevent access by a worker to the hazardous moving parts of the strapping machine. This was contrary to the safety measures in section 24 of Ontario Regulation 851 (the Regulation for Industrial Establishments) and to section 25(1)(c) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
Norbord pled guilty in provincial offences court in Fort Frances, Ontario, and was fined. 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.