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Lumber Mill Fatality in Chapleau Results in $250,000 Fine For Mill Owners

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Lumber Mill Fatality in Chapleau Results in $250,000 Fine For Mill Owners

Convicted: Rayonier A.M. Canada Industries Inc., 4 Place Ville-Marie, Ste. 100, Montreal, Quebec, owner and operator of a softwood lumber mill in Chapleau, Ontario. Rayonier acquired the mill from Tembec Industries Inc., which operated the mill under the name Ryam Lumber, on May 31, 2018.

Location: The company's lumber mill at 175 Planer Road, Chapleau.

Description of Offence: A worker was killed while operating a loader with fork attachments.

Date of Offence: May 25, 2018.

Date of Conviction: January 8, 2020.

Penalty Imposed:

  • Following a guilty plea, Rayonier A.M. Canada Industries Inc. was fined $250,000 in provincial offences court in Chapleau by Justice of the Peace Nathalie Breton; Crown Counsel Wes Wilson.
  • 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:

  • A worker was tasked with removing bundles of wood from the lumber mill's kiln and placing them in the yard. There was no eye witness to the incident.
  • It is believed that a load of wood had been placed in the yard and that the worker had reversed the loader, then gotten out of the machine to place three "crossers" (small pieces of wood) on the pile, so as to create a space between the original bundle and the next bundle to be placed on top of it.
  • Two crossers were placed, and given their positioning and the length of the wood bundle involved, it is believed that the worker was in the process of placing a third crosser.
  • The loader rolled forward and pinned the worker between the loader and the wood bundle.
  • The worker died as a result of the subsequent injuries.
  • Inspection of the loader revealed no mechanical defects to the braking system. However, it was determined that the brake actuator had been modified by the addition of a spring which made the parking brake easier to release.
  • It was determined in the (then) Ministry of Labour's investigation that the forks of the loader had not been lowered securely to the ground, but rather had been resting on an 8" x 8" beam used to indicate where lumber bundles were to be placed.
  • The loader had been parked on ground that sloped toward the wood bundle that had previously been deposited. The slope was found to be 6.3 per cent on the left side of the loader and 5.6 per cent on the right side.The ground was uneven, with deep ruts in the soil. No wheel chocks had been applied to the loader's wheels.
  • Rayonier A.M. Canada Industries Inc. pleaded guilty to failing as an employer to ensure that the measures and procedures prescribed in section 57 of Ontario's Regulation 851 (the Industrial Establishments Regulation) were carried out in the workplace, contrary to section 25(1)(c) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act -that is, that a vehicle left unattended shall be immobilized and secured against accidental movement. 

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