Farm equipment repair shop Feenstra’s Equipment Ltd. fined $70,000 after worker killed in tire explosion

BROCKVILLE, ON – Feenstra’s Equipment Ltd., a business that provides sales, service and repair of new and used agricultural equipment, has pleaded guilty and has been fined $70,000 after a worker was killed while inflating a tire.

On October 18, 2013, an employee of the business, located in Athens, Ontario, was directed to replace a tire on a wagon. The worker was a licensed tire technician. The rim of the tire was removed and the worker started to mount the replacement tire on the rim. However, the flange of the rim of the wheel was bent in a number of places beyond the allowable variations and there were a number of places where the tire could come off the rim. It was then noticed that the replacement tire had some damage; a patch was installed over the damaged area, a tube was placed inside the tire to assist in securing the patch, and the tire was put on the rim and made ready to inflate.

The worker obtained a two-way non-locking air chuck to inflate the tire, which was then connected to a black air hose connected to the shop’s air supply; the non-locking air chuck meant that the worker needed to be close to the tire during inflation.

As it was inflating, the tire came off the rim and the air pressure caused the wheel assembly to fly up, striking the worker in the hands and head, resulting in his death.

A locking air chuck on an extension hose with an inline pressure gauge allows a worker to not hold the valve stem while inflating a tire and use of it would have been a reasonable precaution on the part of the employer.

Feenstra’s Equipment Ltd., pleaded guilty to failing, as an employer, to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker at a workplace as required by the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

The business was fined $70,000 by Justice of the Peace William H. Stewart in Provincial Offences Court in Brockville on January 14. 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.