Convicted: Blocknote Canada Inc., operating as Redtail Vineyards (Redtail Vineyards), 422 Partridge Hollow Road, Consecon, Ontario, a wine-making operation; Lee Baker, a supervisor.
Location of Workplace: 19538 Loyalist Parkway, Consecon, Ontario
Description of Offence:
A worker was seriously injured after a large vat, suspended on a forklift truck, tipped off the forks. The worker had been helping to install the vat when it shifted in balance after a strap was removed. 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.
Date of Offence: September 21, 2021
Date of Conviction: February 3, 2023
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 fines were imposed by Justice of the Peace Jack Chiang. Crown Counsel were Judith Parker and Alessandra Hollands.
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.
- On September 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 19538 Loyalist Parkway in Consecon. The vat weighed about 1,500 pounds.
- Prior to installation, Mr. 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 Mr. Baker drove the vat to the location where the legs would be attached. Mr. Baker 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.
- An investigation by the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development found that Mr. 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).
- Lee 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.
- 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.