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Chapleau lumber mill operator fined $250K for 2018 fatality

Rayonier Advanced Materials convicted on Jan. 8
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(via Shutterstock)

Rayonier Advanced Materials has been fined $250,000 by the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development following a 2018 incident at its Chapleau lumber mill that killed a forklift operator.

At the time, local news reports identified the deceased as 60-year-old William Pye.

The Chapleau mill produces softwood lumber products and wood chips, employing 150 people.

According to the ministry, the incident occurred on May 25, 2018, while the mill was still owned by Tembec Industries Inc. and operating as Ryam Lumber.

Rayonier acquired the mill from Tembec just six days later, on May 31.

On the day of the incident, the ministry said, a worker was removing bundles of wood from the lumber mill’s kiln and placing them in the yard.

There were no eyewitnesses to the account. However, the ministry believes the worker had placed a load of wood in the yard, reversed the loader, and then got 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.

After placing two crossers, the worker was in the process of placing a third crosser when 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.

Through investigation, the ministry determined there were no mechanical defects in the loader’s 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.

The ministry also found that the forks of the loader had not been lowered securely to the ground, but had instead been resting on an 8” by 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. 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 pleaded guilty to failing as an employer to ensure that a vehicle left unattended shall be immobilized and secured against accidental movement (according to section 57 of Ontario's Regulation 851 (the Industrial Establishments Regulation) and contrary to section 25(1)(c) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act).

The company was convicted on Jan. 8, 2020.

In addition to the $250,000 fine, Rayonier must also pay a 25 per cent fine surcharge, as required by the Provincial Offences Act, which will be credited to a special provincial government fund to assist victims of crime.