The Toronto-based company – a subsidiary of Italian dairy giant Parmalat – was charged with violations of the Canadian Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA) following a Ministry of Labour investigation into an incident at the firm’s Mitchell, Ontario plant on 28 February 2011.
It was fined CAD $110,000 after pleading guilty to a charge that it failed “to ensure the direction of flow was positively identified on the pipe system.”
It also pleaded guilty to a charge of “failing to comply with an order by an inspector” and was fined an additional CAD $10,000.
A 25% victim fine surcharge was also imposed.
First and second degree burns
“The cleaning process involved running heated water through the pipes to clear them of the previous product,” said a Ministry of Labour statement on the proceedings.
“After the worker hooked up the pipes and turned on the Clean in Place, a system used to clean the pipes, the worker noticed that not all the pipes were getting hot.”
“The worker realised there was an incorrect hook-up, shut off the Clean in Place and dissembled two connecting elbows in the pipe system. A third elbow flew off and leaked hot water on the worker, causing first and second degree burns,” it added.
The Ministry of Labour concluded that the pipe system did not have its direction of flow “positively identified.”
It added that an inspector’s order to identify the direction of flow in 2009 had not been complied with.
Fined… But not for the first time
Fines relating to OSHA violations at Parmalat Canada’s Mitchell plant total CAD $220,000 in the last 12 months.
In January 2012, the company was fined CAD $100,000 for a separate OSHA violation after a worker was injured in near-identical circumstances.
“On December 18 2009, at the company’s facility in Mitchell, ON, a worker was checking that a pipe system had been properly cleaned. The cleaning process involves running hot water through the pipes. While taking apart one of the valves in the pipe system, the worker was suddenly sprayed by hot water,” said the Canadian Ministry of Labour statement.
“The worker received first and second degree burns,” it added.
The Ministry of Labour concluded on this occasion that there was no need for the water in the pipes to be kept hot while the worker was checking the system. Parmalat Canada pleaded guilty to the charge.