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Golf Cart Injury in Plant Results in $90,000 Fine for FCA in Windsor

Court Bulletin

Golf Cart Injury in Plant Results in $90,000 Fine for FCA in Windsor

Ministry of Labour

Convicted: FCA Canada Inc., 1 Riverside Drive West, Windsor, Ontario, an automotive manufacturing business.

Location of Workplace: FCA's assembly plant at 2199 Chrysler Centre, Windsor, Ontario.

Description of Offence: A worker employed by the company's custodial services provider was critically injured when an industrial golf cart being used to perform custodial duties began travelling unexpectedly under its own power, pinning the worker against a column.

Date of Offence: December 1, 2016.

Date of Conviction: November 29, 2018.

Penalty Imposed:

  • Following a guilty plea, the company was fined $90,000 in provincial offences court in Windsor by Justice of the Peace Susan Hoffman; Crown Counsel Dan Kleiman.
  • The court also 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.

Background:

  • The worker was directly employed by a custodial services provider which contracted with FCA Canada Inc. to provide cleaning and custodial services at the plant.
  • The injury involved an industrial electric golf cart that workers routinely used while performing custodial duties. The primary use of the carts was to carry janitorial supplies, tools and personnel within the workplace.
  • On the day of the incident, the worker parked the golf cart being used and began walking away, then returned to the cart to retrieve an item. While reaching into the cart, the cart unexpectedly began travelling under its own power.
  • The worker was struck and was pinned against a building column, suffering critical injuries.
  • The golf cart was owned by the defendant, FCA Canada, and was manufactured in 2006.
  • A Ministry of Labour engineer examined the golf cart and made the several findings.
  • The cart's seat interlock switch was not properly maintained and was constantly engaged, allowing the cart to move under its own power without an operator in the driver's seat. When functioning properly, this switch is designed to ensure that the cart cannot move under its own power without an operator in the seat.
  • A contributing factor was that the key-switch was non-functional, as the key could be removed while the switch remained in the "on" position. When properly functioning, this key-switch is designed to secure and disable the vehicle because the key can only be removed in the "off" position. As a result, the cart could not be disabled or secured by the operator.
  • The parking brake was also found in less-than-adequate working condition and did not secure the cart when parked. When the worker reached into the cart the accelerator pedal was inadvertently activated, possibly when an item fell off the seat onto the pedal, causing the cart to accelerate.
  • Section 25(1)(b) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act states that "an employer shall ensure that the equipment, materials and protective devices provided by the employer are maintained in good condition."
  • The defendant failed to ensure that the industrial golf cart used by the worker on December 1, 2016 was maintained in good condition.

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