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Ontario sawmill fined $250K after 2018 fatality

January 8, 2020  By Ministry of Labour, Training & Skills Development

Rayonier A.M. Canada Industries, which owns and operates a softwood lumber mill in Chapleau, Ontario, has been fined $250,000 in Ontario provincial court after pleading guilty to a charge involving a worker fatality at its site.

The incident took place May 25, 2018, days before Rayonier acquired the mill from Tembec Industries, which operated the mill under the name Ryam Lumber, on May 31, 2018.

The court also imposed a 25-per-cent victim fine surcharge credited to a provincial government fund to assist victims of crime.


An investigation by the Ministry of Labour found that on the date of the incident, a worker was removing bundles of wood from the lumber mill’s kiln and placing them in the yard. There was no eyewitness to the incident.

It is believed that a load of wood had been placed in the yard and that the worker had reversed the loader, then gotten out of the machine to place three “crossers” (small pieces of wood) on the pile, so as to create a space between the original bundle and the next bundle to be placed on top of it.

Two crossers were placed, and, given their positioning and the length of the wood bundle involved, it is believed that the worker was in the process of placing a third crosser.

The loader rolled forward and pinned the worker between the loader and the wood bundle. The worker died as a result of the subsequent injuries.

Inspection of the loader revealed no mechanical defects to the braking system. However, it was determined that the brake actuator had been modified by the addition of a spring, which made the parking brake easier to release.

Investigators determined that the forks of the loader had not been lowered securely to the ground, but rather had been resting on an 8″ x 8″ beam used to indicate where lumber bundles were to be placed.

The loader had been parked on ground that sloped toward the wood bundle that had previously been deposited. The slope was found to be 6.3 per cent on the left side of the loader and 5.6 per cent on the right side. The ground was uneven, with deep ruts in the soil. No wheel chocks had been applied to the loader’s wheels.

Rayonier A.M. Canada Industries pleaded guilty to failing as an employer to ensure that the measures and procedures prescribed in the Industrial Establishments Regulation were carried out in the workplace, contrary to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, which states that a vehicle left unattended shall be immobilized and secured against accidental movement.

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