A worker at Maple Leaf Foods’ meat processing facility in North York, Ontario, lost his fingers when he attempted to clear a blockage from a meat chopper in July 2012. Canada’s Ministry of Labour has found the company negligent in ensuring the machine’s blade could only be accessed and cleaned when completely stopped.
The blade on the meat chopper was guarded by a safety cage. When the worker in question lifted the blade and attempted to use a hook to remove the blockage, the blade continued to turn, rather than stopping; the hook became caught, the worker was pulled in, and the fingers were lopped off.
Justice of the Peace David J. Hunt imposed a $110,000 fine against the plant for improper safeguards. In addition to the fine, the court imposed a 25% victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act, which will go to a special fund to assist victims of crime.
Maple Leaf Foods officials declined to comment on the incident or court case.
The 2012 incident is not Maple Leaf Foods’ first significant fine for health and safety violations.
The firm was fined $100,000 after the court found it negligible in protecting a Kitchener facility worker whose arm was crushed by a box-forming machine in July 2010. It also received a $100,000 fine for improperly training and insufficient safeguards when a worker at the same plant was mauled by a wrapping machine.