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Winery in Prince Edward County fined $50,000 after worker injured by falling vat

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February 15, 2023
By OHS Canada

Health & Safety Fines Forklift ontario Winery

A man pours a glass of red wine. Photo: Olga/Adobe Stock

A winery in Ontario’s Prince Edward County has been fined $50,000 after a large vat fell off a forklift, seriously injuring a worker. The supervisor in charge was also fined $2,000.

1,500-pound vat

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

Prior to installation, Baker and the workers 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 Baker drove the vat to the location where the legs would be attached. Baker exited the forklift truck, leaving the vat strapped in and resting on the forks of the truck, about 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.

Ministry investigation

An investigation by the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development found that Baker left the forklift truck unoccupied with its load suspended three feet off the ground and that removing the strap, after the first leg was installed, was an unsafe manner of storing and moving the vat. No blocking or other bracing was put in place to ensure the vat did not shift or fall once the strap was removed.

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.

Redtail Vineyards failed as an employer to ensure measures and procedures prescribed by 102(c) of Ontario Regulation 213/91 (Regulation for Construction Projects) were carried out, contrary to section 25(1)(c) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA).

Baker failed as a supervisor to ensure a worker worked in the manner and with the protective devices, measures and procedures required by section 102(c) of the Regulation for Construction Projects, contrary to section 23(1)(a) of the OHSA.

Vineyard provided ‘significant’ assistance

After the event, Redtail Vineyards provided what the ministry called “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.


Redtail Vineyards was fined $50,000 and Lee Baker was fined $2,000 following guilty pleas at the Ontario Court of Justice in Picton. 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.


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