Workers hurt; Sudbury mill fined $75,000

conveyor beltMohawk Garnet Inc., operator of a mill in the City of Greater Sudbury, pleaded guilty and has been fined $75,000 after two separate incidents in which workers were injured by moving conveyor belts.

On January 14, 2015, a worker at the mining plant’s mill in Wahnapitae (east of Sudbury) was performing maintenance on a feed conveyor which moves coarse ore from outside to a bin inside the mill. The cold weather caused the belt of the conveyor to lose contact with the head pulley, resulting in the belt slipping. To rectify the problem, workers used a propane-fed torch to heat the pulley while the conveyor was in operation.

The worker was setting up to use the torch, tripped and fell backwards onto the conveyor and clothing was pulled into the rotating head pulley. The worker suffered multiple injuries from contact with the conveyor belt and required surgery.

Three weeks later, on February 5, 2015 at the same mill, a worker was engaged in adjusting and unplugging a conveyor system water spray bar, used to help in the flow of ore onto conveyors.  While making the adjustment, the conveyor was in operation and the worker was pulled into a rotating pinch point. This worker also suffered extensive injuries from contact with the conveyor belt, and also required surgery.

Both incidents took place at the company’s wet plant at 1000 Kukagami Lake Road in Wahnapitae. The subsequent Ministry of Labour investigations found the conveyors did not have proper guards to prevent contact with an accessible pinch point.

The company pleaded guilty to failing to ensure that measures and procedures prescribed by the Mines and Mining Plants Regulation (Regulation 854) were carried out in the workplace.  The company was fined a total of $75,000 by Justice of the Peace J. Gary McMahon in Sudbury court on August 19, 2016.

In addition to the fine, 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.

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