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County winery fined $50,000 after worker seriously injured in 2021

Blocknote Canada Inc., operating as Redtail Vineyards in Consecon, was fined $50,000 in the conclusion of a 2021 incident where a worker was seriously injured when a vat weighing 1,500 pounds tipped over.

An investigation by the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development found that a supervisor left a forklift unoccupied with its load suspended three feet off the ground, and that removing a strap after the first leg was installed was an unsafe manner of moving the vat.

“The strap had attached the vat to the forks of the forklift truck. The supervisor, who was driving the forklift truck, exited the vehicle before the strap was removed, leaving it unoccupied with a suspended load. The employer and supervisor failed to ensure the forklift truck operator did not leave the controls of the truck unattended when it had a raised load on its forks,” the court bulletin reported.

The supervisor was fined $2,000.

The decision Feb. 3, followed guilty pleas at the Ontario Court of Justice in Picton. The fines were imposed by Justice of the Peace Jack Chiang.

The incident was Sept. 21, 2021 when two workers and their supervisor were assembling and installing a 1,200-gallon stainless steel fermentation vat at a new wine processing facility being constructed at 19538 Loyalist Parkway in Consecon. The vat weighed about 1,500 pounds.

Prior to installation, the three did a walkthrough of the task. Four legs, each 2.5 feet in length, needed to be installed on the bottom for support before putting the vat into place.

The vat was strapped to the load backrest of a forklift truck, and the supervisor drove the vat to the location where the legs would be attached; then exited the forklift truck, leaving the vat strapped in and resting on the forks of the truck, approximately three feet off the ground.

After installing the first leg, the vat needed to be repositioned. To accommodate this, the strap was removed under the supervisor’s guidance.
As one of the workers installed the second leg, the vat shifted off balance. The worker attempted to brace the vat, but it tipped off the forks, seriously injuring the worker.

“No blocking or other bracing was put in place to ensure the vat did not shift or fall once the strap was removed,” the ministry noted.

The investigation also found the injured worker was not provided with information, instruction or supervision on the safe assembly of the vat. No safe work procedure was developed on how to install the legs. The injured worker was not fluent in English and there was no evidence that the walkthrough was conducted in a manner that the worker understood.

It was also noted that after the event, Redtail Vineyards provided significant assistance to the injured worker and the worker’s family, including arranging for immigration and work permits, healthcare coverage, schooling, housing and other necessities. Redtail Vineyards also kept the injured worker on payroll, topping up the worker’s loss of earning benefits to the worker’s full salary from the date of the event until the worker left Canada in November 2022.

Filed Under: Local News

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