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Vale Canada fined $1 million


October 26, 2016
By Ontario Newsroom

October 26, 2016 – Vale Canada Limited pleaded guilty and has been fined $1,000,000 after one worker died and another was critically injured while attempting to clear a jam in a rock-crushing machine at a plant near Sudbury, Ont.

The incident took place at the company’s rock-crushing facility located at 18 Rink Street in Copper Cliff, Ontario on April 6, 2014. A rock crusher, used in the first stages of the refining process, became jammed with a broken-off steel moil point (a pointed tool) inside the crusher. There were no established procedures for removing broken or jammed materials from crushers.

After one failed attempt to remove the moil point, two workers positioned themselves above the jaws of the crusher to use a cutting torch to free the moil point, which weighed about 53.5 kilograms. As the cutting torch was applied, the heat softened the steel of the moil point, reducing friction and causing the moil point to be released from the compressive power of the crusher jaws created by stored energy. The moil point propelled vertically toward the two workers, striking each of them. One suffered fatal trauma and the other suffered critical injuries.

The subsequent Ministry of Labour investigation found the electrical motor of the crusher had not been locked out, and no measures were taken to release the stored energy of the crusher.

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Vale Canada Limited pleaded guilty to failing to ensure that gravity-stored energy was dissipated or contained while work was being done on the crusher, and to failing to provide information, instruction and supervision to a worker on a safe procedure to remove the broken moil point from the crusher. The company also pleaded guilty to failing to ensure that pinch points were guarded on the conveyor and crusher; these offences were not related to the fatality or injury.

The company was fined a total of $1,000,000 in provincial court by Justice Patrick Boucher on October 24, 2016 in Sudbury court.

A supervisor who was acting as a worker that day, Greg Taylor, pleaded guilty to failing to work in compliance with Ontario’s mining regulation, and was fined $3,000 for his involvement in the failed attempt to remove the moil point.

In addition to the fines, the court 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.

This is the second-highest fine imposed by a court in Ontario for contraventions of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. In 2013 Vale Canada Limited was convicted and fined $1,050,000 in the 2011 deaths of two workers at its Stobie Mine near Sudbury.