RJM Farms Inc. Fined $82,500 in Death of Worker
BARRIE, ON - The death of a migrant farm worker has resulted in a fine of $82,500 to a potato farm after the worker was crushed by a potato hopper assembly.
On May 27, 2013, several workers were running the seed potato cutting line on RJM Farms, located at 5980 5th Side Road in Egbert, southwest of Barrie. The workers were required to remove a conveyor from the line and replace it with a potato hopper used to process seed potatoes. However, the workers realized that the hopper was not high enough to reach the conveyor.
The workers used bottle jacks to raise the container-frame assembly. One worker stayed near the middle with a level to make sure it was being raised evenly; the other workers extended the bottle jacks to raise the assembly.
One worker was situated under part of the jacked-up load to gain access to the bottle jack when the assembly suddenly fell. The worker was crushed between the frame of the potato hopper and the axle and death occurred immediately.
A subsequent investigation by the Ministry of Labour found that the hopper container-frame assembly was raised beyond the height of the anchor posts of the wheel-and-axle assembly. In addition, the hopper's wheels were not chocked, nor was the elevated hopper container frame assembly blocked securely and solidly to prevent it from accidentally falling. While elevated, the wheel-and-axle assembly was vulnerable to rolling away from the hopper, causing the bottle jack to overturn in the opposite direction.
It was the first time the worker had performed the task of adjusting the hopper.
RJM Farms Inc. pleaded guilty to failing as an employer to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker, and was fined $82,500 by Justice of the Peace Dennis A. Wilson in Barrie court on November 24, 2015.
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
45 Cedar Pointe Drive
Justice of the Peace Dennis A. Wilson
Date of Sentencing:
November 24, 2015
RJM Farms Inc. and R.J. Mackenzie
7467 - 25th Side Road
Alliston, Ontario (corporate address)
Occupational health and safety
Occupational Health and Safety Act