Worker caught in extruder, Uponor fined $80,000
Plastic piping manufacturer failed to ensure machinery was stopped during maintenance task.
BRACEBRIDGE, Ont. — A manufacturer of plastic piping in Huntsville, Ont. has been fined $80,000 because of a worker injured after being pulled into a machine while it was operating.
Uponor Infra Ltd. plead guilty in Bracebridge, Ont. provincial court to failing as an employer to ensure a machine was not in movement while undergoing maintenance.
The manufacturing process involves feeding plastic pipes into extruders. These large machines have internal tracks that guide the pipes through the machinery to form the required sizes.
On March 25, 2017, a worker was assigned to operate one of the extruders. The worker, who did not normally perform this task, told a supervisor the pipes were slipping off their tracks. The supervisor instructed the worker to get under the machine while it was still in operation and clean the tracks to stop the pipes from slipping.
While cleaning one of the tracks, the worker’s sleeve got caught by a rotating drive shaft and was pulled into the extruder. A nearby worker pushed an emergency stop button and called for help.
The worker was extricated by emergency responders and remained hospitalized for several months.
The investigation by the Ministry of Labour revealed there was no guard in place to prevent access to exposed moving parts inside the extruder.
Although Uponor had policies and procedures about shutting down or locking out machinery before performing any cleaning or maintenance, it was common practice in the workplace to clean the tracks while the machinery was in operation.
The supervisor confirmed that workers cleaned the extruder in the same manner three to four times during a normal shift; the supervisor had done so twice already during the same shift.
Section 75 of Ontario Regulation 851 (the Industrial Establishments Regulation) requires that a part of a machine shall only be cleaned or have maintenance work performed on it when a) motion that may endanger a worker has stopped, and b) any part that has been stopped and that may subsequently move and endanger a worker has been blocked to prevent its movement.
The court also imposed a 25% victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act for a special provincial government fund to assist victims of crime.