Brantford company fined $170,000 after worker crushed under equipment

BRANTFORD: Massilly North America Inc. / Massilly Amerique de Nord Inc., a producer of metal twist caps and closures for the food and beverage industry, pleaded guilty and was fined $170,000 after a worker was killed by a moving platform.

On May 4, 2013, at the company’s facility at 406 Elgin Street in Brantford, a worker was called to troubleshoot a problem with a conveyor platform. The steel platform operates both horizontally and vertically; a control button lifts the platform to a vertical/elevated position to allow for cleaning and adjustment of equipment located under the platform. The movement takes place by way of a pneumatic cylinder connected to the undercarriage of the platform that raises and lowers the platform in a slow and controlled manner.

On the day in question, the platform was not operating properly and could not be lowered from the elevated vertical position down into the horizontal position. To repair it, the worker removed part of the perimeter barrier guarding, proceeded to crawl under and into the space directly below the platform and removed the air line from the pneumatic cylinder fitting. Another worker was asked to push on the Down button and the platform came down suddenly in a free-fall mode, striking and pinning the worker attempting the repair.

In normal operating conditions, exhaust air would exit the cylinder in a controlled way through control valves and an air cushion would be maintained in the cylinder to help lower the platform to the horizontal position slowly and in a controlled manner.

Emergency services were summoned but the worker had succumbed to head injuries.

A Ministry of Labour investigation found that the pneumatic cylinder was in proper working condition but that insufficient interlocks were in place on the elevated equipment or elsewhere on the equipment to protect a worker from the hazard caused by the raised platform. The investigation concluded that hazardous energy (gravity) that could cause injury to staff  performing work inside a hazard zone was not adequately controlled.

The company failed to ensure that machinery or equipment that was temporarily elevated and under which a worker might pass or work was securely and solidly blocked to prevent the machinery or equipment from falling or moving, as required by law.

Further investigation found that the company failed to ensure that materials were lifted or moved in such a way that they did not endanger the safety of any worker, as required by law.

Massilly North America Inc./Massilly Amerique de Nord Inc. pleaded guilty to failing, as an employer, to ensure that the necessary measures and procedures prescribed by law were carried out, and was fined $170,000.

The fine was imposed by Justice of the Peace Patrice Valeriano in Provincial Offences Court in London on February 4, 2015. In addition to the fine, the court 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.