A Leamington, Ont.-based mushroom grower with a facility in Wellington, Ont., has been fined $90,000 for a workplace incident that left one man seriously injured.
Highline Produce Limited was sentenced by Justice of the Peace Ernest Parsons in a Picton, Ont., court Dec. 6 following a guilty plea from the company.
According to a news release from the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development, the incident happened on Sep. 20, 2018. A worker in Highline Mushrooms’ Wellington facility was called over to clean up compost that had fallen on the ground near a conveyor that feeds into a hopper.
The ministry described the equipment as “an angled conveyor and hopper, which consists of chain-driven cross bars and a fixed flat pan conveyor.” In order to move material to the hopper, bars move up the conveyor, dragging material to the top.
The worker was called over to assist a superior clean around the stationary conveyor, but at one point, the superior removed the lock from the conveyor and it began to move.
When the worker began to walk around the conveyor, he slipped on some wet compost and fell. He then reached out to grab one of the conveyor bars to break his fall, but was instead caught up in the moving conveyor, and dragged by the machine.
The incident left the man with several critical injuries. The ministry could not respond right away when asked if these injuries prevented the worker from continuing his work in the future.
The ministry noted there were no guards in place to prevent a worker from being caught, that the conveyor should not have been turned on while the worker was close by, and the area around it should not have been covered in compost while the conveyor was operating. Therefore, it was found that the employer had not taken every precaution to ensure a safe work environment for its employees.
The produce company was additionally fined a 25 per cent victim fine surcharge, a provincially mandated fine that goes towards a fund that assists victims of crime.
The Ministry could not respond to the employee’s current condition and exactly what kind of injuries they sustained, but said they would be providing those details as soon as possible.