Thursday, March 8, 2007

Niagara Winery Fined Under Occupational Health and Safety Act

Vincor International Inc. fined $50,000 for health and safety violation

ST. CATHARINES, ON, March 8 /CNW/ - Vincor International Inc., a Niagara Falls, Ont.-based wine producer, was fined $50,000 today for a violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act that resulted in serious hand injuries to an employee.

On August 23, 2005, a worker was attempting to clear a jam on an "uncaser machine" (a machine that forced the bottom flaps of boxes open in order to allow bottles to drop onto a conveyor and be filled with wine) when the worker's hands became entangled in the machine's drive belt. The worker suffered a broken finger tip on the left hand and lacerations and bruising to both hands. The incident occurred at the company's bottling plant at 4887 Dorchester Road in Niagara Falls.

A Ministry of Labour investigation found the uncaser machine's "interlock system" (a system of electronic devices designed to shut down the machine to prevent worker access to dangerous pinch points) was set to a bypass position which prevented the machine from shutting down when its doors were opened. The ministry also found the injured worker did not lock out the machine to ensure movement was stopped and would not start before accessing the machine to clear the jam.

Vincor International Inc. pleaded guilty, as an employer, to failing to ensure control switches or other control mechanisms were locked out and other effective necessary precautions to prevent any starting were taken when the starting of the uncaser machine could endanger a worker's safety, as required by Section 76 of the Regulations for Industrial Establishments. This was
contrary to Section 25(1)(c) of the act.

The fine was imposed by Justice of the Peace Donna Cowan of the Ontario Court of Justice in St. Catharines. In addition, 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.

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