Rapid Gear fined $62,500 after worker injured when glove become stuck in lathe
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Rapid Precision Machining & Gearing Ltd., operating as Rapid Gear, has been fined $62,500 for failing to provide adequate workplace safety, resulting in a worker’s critical injury.
The Kitchener, Ont.-based company specializes in manufacturing custom metal gearing, gear boxes, and other products for heavy industry.
The incident took place on Nov. 9, 2021, at Rapid Gear’s factory located at 1596 Strasburg Road in Kitchener. The worker was polishing a metal shaft using a manual lathe while holding a piece of emery paper. The paper became entangled with the rotating shaft, causing the worker’s glove to stick and leading to a critical injury.
According to the court findings issued by the province in a press release, Rapid Gear violated section 25(2)(a) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act by failing to provide sufficient information, instruction, and supervision to its workers.
In addition to a $50,000 fine, the court mandated a 25% victim fine surcharge, in compliance with the Provincial Offences Act. The surcharge will be credited to a provincial fund designed to assist victims of crime.
Several lapses were identified in Rapid Gear’s safety protocols. Although the company had a health and safety policy, none of the workers were aware of it. The role of a health and safety coordinator, referred to in the policy, was unfilled at the time of the incident. Furthermore, individuals in supervisory roles had not completed the required Occupational Health and Safety Supervisor Awareness Course.
The company’s policy also specified that only workers with appropriate trade qualifications should operate the lathe. However, the injured worker was not qualified, and neither were two of the three employees who regularly used the equipment. Moreover, training on how to use the lathe was verbally communicated but not documented, and the lathe’s manual was in Czech, a language none of the workers spoke.
There were no standard operating procedures for using the metal lathe or for the specific task that led to the injury, leaving workers unaware of alternative, safer methods of operation.