NEWMARKET, ONT — Newmarket Ont.-based Bodycote Thermal Processing Canada Inc. was fined $135,000 after a temporary worker was struck by a forklift, critically injured and later died.
The decision was handed down Oct. 13 at the Ontario Court of Justice in Newmarket, by Justice of the Peace Karen Walker. The company pleaded guilty to the offence of failing as an employer to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker, contrary to section 25(2)(h) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
A release issued by the Ministry of Labour (MOL) indicates the company failed to ensure a worker was not endangered by the operation of a forklift; to ensure a pedestrian was adequately separated from forklift traffic in a "high forklift travel" route; and to ensure the storage of materials did not endanger the safety of a worker by limiting sightlines of a forklift operator and/or pedestrian worker.
According to the release, the temporary worker was working as a belt line operator's assistant, which required frequent movement along and between conveyor belt lines and among moving forklifts. There were three belt lines in operation at the time of the incident and an out-of-service line known as the surface line.
The worker was walking along the side of the surface line and walked past a stack of bins and across a yellow line painted on the floor, then entered a pathway shared by both forklifts and pedestrians. Between the surface line and a fourth belt line the worker was struck by a forklift driven by the belt line operator, the release states. The worker suffered a severe injury and was hospitalized, passing away several months later.
The MOL's investigation found the walkway was a shared pedestrian and forklift aisle frequently used as a traffic corridor in both directions. There were no pedestrian crossways, stop signs, mirrors, walkways or barriers separating pedestrians from forklift traffic, and there were no identified crossing points along the aisle to make pedestrian movement more predictable and easier to anticipate, adds the release.
In addition, an MOL ergonomist conducted a line-of-sight assessment and concluded there had been insufficient distance for the forklift operator to safely bring the forklift to a stop before impact with the worker. Also, there was a "blind spot" area and the forklift operator had not been speeding.
The assessment also indicated the storage of empty bins adjacent to the yellow lines on the floor in the surface line area was a contributing factor to the incident. The location and height of the bins limited the sightlines available to the forklift operator by effectively blocking part of the view.