Mushroom farm convicted and fined $90,000 for failing to protect workers

News 100 redBy Staff

February 1st, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

 

A Halton Regional mushroom farm was convicted for the second time under the Occupational Health and Safety Act .

mushrooms

Mushroom production.

Monaghan Mushrooms Ltd., a mushroom farming facility at 7345 Guelph Line, Campbellville, Ontario was fined $90,000 by Justice of the Peace Paul Macphail in Burlington court.

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.

This is the second time the company has been convicted under section 25(2)(h) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act .

Background:
• On April 29, 2017 a worker was seriously injured when a small mobile pallet truck collided with a reversing forklift in an indoor hallway at the workplace. Both vehicles were operated by Monaghan employees.

• The pallet truck was being operated by one worker (worker 1) and the forklift was being operated by another worker (worker 2).

• Worker 1 was driving the pallet truck down a long hallway to drop a last skid of mushrooms in the facility’s pack house; worker 2’s forklift was transporting mushroom trays down the hallway to a tray de-stacker.

• A third worker driving a forklift pulled into the tray de-stacker to pick up a load of trays. Worker 1 stopped the pallet truck in the hallway to wait for that task to be completed, as did worker 2 with the forklift.

• The third worker reversed out of the de-stacker and drove away. Worker 2 then drove the forklift forward and turned into the de-stacker to drop the load.

• At this point worker 1 was standing at the controls of the pallet truck.
• Worker 2 backed up the forklift and reversed, intending to drive to pick up another load. The back-up beeper and lights were activated while the forklift was backing up, but the worker did not look in the direction being driven.

• At the same time, worker 1 started driving forward to drop off the last load. The two vehicles collided.

• The forklift struck Worker 1; the worker was sprung from the pallet truck and fell to the ground.

• It was later found that Monaghan had not developed or implemented any policies, procedures or training about which vehicles had the right of way. The Ministry of Labour’s investigation found that the three workers had differing beliefs about which vehicle had right of way.

• The mobile equipment involved in the accident was determined to be in good working condition.

• The company had a prior record in relation to a fatality at the workplace. On December 20, 2011, a worker employed by a subcontractor was struck and killed by a front-end loader operating in reverse. Monaghan pleaded guilty and was convicted on April 8, 2014 of failing to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker, contrary to section 25(2)(h) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act; at that time the company was fined $140,000.

The Campbellville, Ontario facility is the largest mushroom farm in Canada and the largest farm in the Monaghan Group; with production capacity of 650,000 lbs of mushrooms per week.  Monaghan exports $10,500,000(CDN) worth of mushrooms from Canada to the United States each year, predominately to California, Michigan and Washington State.

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