Port Coquitlam-based Nutri-Nation Functional Foods has been fined $55,426 by WorkSafe B.C. after a young worker sustained “serious injuries” while scraping dough from the inside of a mixing machine.
The fine was levied on May 11.
The worker was new to the company, which specializes in custom-manufactured energy and health bars and employed the equivalent of 137 full-time workers.
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On Sept. 27, 2021, the worker was one of a few employees who added ingredients to commercial-made mixing machines to make dough, according to WorkSafe B.C.’s incident investigation report. It was the last mixing batch of the shift when the new employee stepped onto a metal box to scrape dough off the back inner wall of a mixing machine. The machine was shut off.
While he was scraping, another worker switched on the hydraulics for the machine. The second worker was standing beside the control panel when he asked the new employee if he was finished.
The new employee said, “no,” adding that he needed more time.
“Approximately 20 seconds later, Worker 2 asked Worker 1 again if he was done scraping,” the report stated.
The new employee, who was still standing behind the machine, “tilted his head slightly and made a slight hand motion while holding the scraper.”
The other worker switched on the agitator. “A few seconds later, Worker 1 reached back inside the machine and continued scraping the inside of the tub as the machine was mixing.”
He got entangled in the machine’s agitator and suffered a serious injury.
None of the documentation provided by Nutri-Nations shows that the new employee was “provided orientation and training regarding the hazards that he would be exposed to” while working on the mixing machine, according to the WorkSafe B.C. report.
The machine in question was bought by Nutri-Nation in 2006.
“There was no cover on top of the tub, there were no other physical guards to prevent any worker from accessing the machine or the inside of the tub with the agitator, and there were no signs or other types of safeguards that prevented or warned workers to keep away from the machine when in operation,” the report stated.
“Although Nutri-Nation did not require anyone to go to the back of the machine for scraping, it was a normal practice done by the workers,” the report stated. “Other workers interviewed stated that scraping the inside of the mixing machine during production was common — they would hit the stop button, scrape the inside of the machine (usually from the front), and then turn it back on.”
The starting and stopping controls of powered equipment must be within reach of the equipment operator, which in this case would have been the new employee.
“The controls for the machine were completely out of Worker 1’s reach,” the report stated.
There were four other mixing machines at the site, all of which had safeguards.
“Nutri-Nation failed to ensure the safety of its workers by not having an effective lockout procedure for the machine,” the report concluded.
Following the injury, the company installed new guards and interlocks on the mixing machine and installed a new control panel within reach of the operator. Nutri-Nation also developed a new owner’s manual for the mixing machine.