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Second Conviction for Mushroom Farm's Failure to Protect Worker

Court Bulletin

Second Conviction for Mushroom Farm's Failure to Protect Worker

Ministry of Labour

Convicted: Monaghan Mushrooms Ltd., a mushroom farming facility at 7345 Guelph Line, Campbellville, Ontario.

Location: The company's growing facility on Guelph Line.

Description of Offence: A collision between a mobile pallet truck and a reversing forklift resulted in critical injuries to a worker.

Date of Offence: April 29, 2017.

Date of Conviction: January 29, 2019.

This is the second time the company has been convicted under section 25(2)(h) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (see last sentence).

Penalty Imposed:

  • Following a guilty plea, the company was fined $90,000 by Justice of the Peace Paul Macphail in Burlington court; Crown Counsel Jai Dhar.
  • 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:

  • On April 29, 2017 a worker was seriously injured when a small mobile pallet truck collided with a reversing forklift in an indoor hallway at the workplace. Both vehicles were operated by Monaghan employees.
  • The pallet truck was being operated by one worker (worker 1) and the forklift was being operated by another worker (worker 2).
  • Worker 1 was driving the pallet truck down a long hallway to drop a last skid of mushrooms in the facility's pack house; worker 2's forklift was transporting  mushroom trays down the hallway to a tray de-stacker.
  • A third worker driving a forklift pulled into the tray de-stacker to pick up a load of trays. Worker 1 stopped the pallet truck in the hallway to wait for that task to be completed, as did worker 2 with the forklift.
  • The third worker reversed out of the de-stacker and drove away. Worker 2 then drove the forklift forward and turned into the de-stacker to drop the load.
  • At this point worker 1 was standing at the controls of the pallet truck.
  • Worker 2 backed up the forklift and reversed, intending to drive to pick up another load. The back-up beeper and lights were activated while the forklift was backing up, but the worker did not look in the direction being driven.
  • At the same time, worker 1 started driving forward to drop off the last load.  The two vehicles collided.
  • The forklift struck Worker 1; the worker was sprung from the pallet truck and fell to the ground.
  • It was later found that Monaghan had not developed or implemented any policies, procedures or training about which vehicles had the right of way. The Ministry of Labour's investigation found that the three workers had differing beliefs about which vehicle had right of way.
  • The mobile equipment involved in the accident was determined to be in good working condition.
  • The company had a prior record in relation to a fatality at the workplace. On December 20, 2011, a worker employed by a subcontractor was struck and killed by a front-end loader operating in reverse. Monaghan pleaded guilty and was convicted on April 8, 2014 of failing to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker, contrary to section 25(2)(h) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act; at that time the company was fined $140,000.

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