February 9, 2021
Convicted: Norbord Inc., 1 Toronto Street, Suite #600, Toronto, Ontario, an international company that produces wood-based products, including Oriented Strand Board (OSB), a type of engineered wood.
Location of Workplace: A mill operated by Norbord Inc. at 181 Nighswander Road in Berwick, Ontario (Rainy River District).
Description of Offence: A worker was injured when a machine activated unexpectedly. The machine was not equipped with a guard or other device in place to prevent access by a worker to hazardous moving parts.
Date of Offences: October 23, 2018.
Date of Conviction: February 4, 2021.
- Following a guilty plea in provincial offences court in Fort Frances, Norbord Inc. was fined $65,000 by Justice of the Peace Pat Clysdale-Cornell; Crown Counsel Shantanu Roy.
- 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.
- The strapping machine is among one of the machines involved in the production of OSB at the mill. The strapping machine is designed to automatically apply strapping to bundles of newly produced OSB prior to their shipment.
- Wood packing material known as dunnage as well as edge protectors are also automatically put in place to protect against damage.
- A programmable logic controller (PLC) is an industrial digital computer which is used the manufacturing process. In this case, the PLC controls the automatic function of the strapping machine and its various conveyors. Several sensors ensure that each bundle of OSB, dunnage and edge protectors are in place before the strapping operation occurs.
- In automatic mode, the PLC starts the conveyor to move the bundle into the strapping machine. When the sensors signal to the PLC that the bundle is in the correct position, the PLC stops the conveyor. The PLC then energizes a ram to push the dunnage into position under the bundle.
- When the dunnage is in the correct position, it contacts something known as the “flop gate” or actuator which has a sensor connected to the PLC. The top portion of the strapping machine (the platen) then hydraulically lowers to compress the bundle; strapping is applied around the bundle, dunnage and edge protectors. The conveyor then moves the bundle forward and the process is repeated for a second strap on the bundle.
- On October 23, 2018, the strapping machine was running in automatic mode when it suddenly stopped after moving an OSB bundle into position. A worker approached the front of the machine to investigate and troubleshoot the problem. The worker discovered that an edge protector had fallen and was preventing the movement of the flop gate/actuator. Since the flop gate/actuator wasn’t in the expected position, the PLC didn’t receive the signal required to proceed further.
- The worker bent over to pick up the edge protector from where it had fallen. As soon as the edge protector was removed, the flop gate/actuator moved, which caused the PLC to receive the signal to proceed with the strapping operation. The platen lowered and the worker was caught between the bundle and the platen, suffering an injury.
- An investigation of the incident by the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development found that there were no guards or other devices in place to prevent access by a worker to the hazardous moving parts of the strapping machine. This was contrary to the safety measures in section 24 of Ontario Regulation 851 (the Regulation for Industrial Establishments) and to section 25(1)(c) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.