Supermarket Convicted In Forklift Death
TORONTO, ON - 1039145 Ontario Inc., operating as Tuong Phat Supermarket in North York, has pleaded guilty and has been fined $140,000 in the death of a worker crushed by a forklift truck.
On October 5, 2013, a worker who was hired the day before was operating a fork lift truck at the market located at 309 Finch Avenue West in Toronto. The worker was assigned the task of stacking fruit in the fruit department; this involved moving fruit products from the basement to the main floor. To perform this task the worker used a "stacker" which is a walk-behind lift truck. The worker had not been trained to use the stacker.
Using the stacker, a worker could lift material from the basement to the main floor through a rectangular opening in the main floor in the loading area. A worker would load products on the forks of the stacker, manually positioning the stacker into place, and then move products through the opening by operating the controls to raise or lower the forks.
Video surveillance footage showed the worker in the basement operating the stacker throughout the day. The footage showed the stacker forks being raised through the opening and the stacker then tipping over and falling backwards. A worker was crushed and died later that day.
The defendant did not notify the Ministry of Labour of the workplace injury, as required; the Toronto Police Service notified the ministry the following day.
An engineering consultant for the Ministry of Labour concluded that a contributing factor was that, at the time of the incident, the lift truck did not have the specified battery weight on it. This would have reduced the stability of the lift truck since the weight of the battery pack acts as a counterbalance to the weight of the load.
In addition, a Ministry of Labour ergonomist who attended the scene concluded that lighting levels measured at the incident site were well below a recommended design guideline for warehousing tasks (less than 20 per cent). The levels also fell short of an absolute minimum where safety is related to visibility, suggesting that insufficient lighting may have adversely affected the ability of the worker to see the fork tips. Witnesses reported that the worker had not received training regarding safe work procedures that would have provided visual cues to correctly perceive and position the fork tips.
The company pleaded guilty to failing as an employer to ensure that the stacker was only operated by a competent person, and was fined $140,000 by Justice of the Peace Mindy Avrich-Skapinker in Old City Hall court in Toronto.
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.
Court Information at a Glance
Provincial Offences Court/Ontario Court of Justice
60 Queen Street West (Old City Hall)
Justice of the Peace Mindy Avrich-Skapinker
Date of Sentencing:
May 14, 2015
1039145 Ontario Inc.
Tuong Phat Supermarket
309 Finch Avenue West
Toronto (North York), Ontario
Occupational health and safety
Occupational Health and Safety Act
Ontario Regulation 851/90 (Industrial Establishments Regulation)