OHS Canada Magazine

Saputo fined $75,000 after worker injured by cheese cutting machine in Tavistock, Ont.

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October 12, 2023
By OHS Canada

Health & Safety Fines ontario Saputo

A dairy products manufacturer in Ontario has been fined $75,000, plus a 25% victim fine surcharge, bringing the total amount to $93,750, after a worker was hurt while making cheese.

On July 11, 2021, there was a production issue with a vacuum mold release machine and a cheese cutter machine in the Saputo’s Tavistock, Ont.,  cheese production department.

After being produced and removed from molds, cheese products travel by conveyor belt to the cheese cutter, passing a sensor positioned directly in front of the cheese cutter. The sensor detects when a cheese product passes by and engages a pneumatic-powered pusher arm that sends the cheese products through a cheese cutter.

Workers observed that cheese products were picking up debris and acquiring black marks in the location where the products exited the cheese cutter machine. To remedy the issue, they shut off, disconnected and wiped down the machine.

A supervisor, a production worker and members of the maintenance staff came over to troubleshoot the issue. As part of the troubleshooting process, the supervisor removed the metal guard for the pusher arm but left the interlock safety switch for the guard engaged, allowing power to remain in the equipment so that the machine could be cycled as part of troubleshooting.


A worker, who was not part of the group conducting the troubleshooting and unaware that the pusher arm remained powered, walked over to the group and pointed to the area of concern, putting their index finger in a small gap. This triggered the sensor and engaged the pusher arm, which struck the worker’s hand, resulting in an injury.

A Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development investigation determined that the pusher arm should have been stopped from moving and prevented from starting, and the machine should have been locked out before the troubleshooting/maintenance work started.

Section 76 of Ontario Regulation 851 prescribes that where the starting of a machine, transmission machinery, device or thing may endanger the safety of a worker, control switches or other control mechanisms shall be locked out and other effective precautions necessary to prevent any starting shall be taken. The company failed, as an employer to ensure that measures and procedures prescribed by section 76 of the regulation were carried out in the workplace, contrary to section 25(1)(c) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Following the incident, the company voluntarily undertook various remedial actions to further improve safety.


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