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Worker hit, killed by reversing truck while on smoke break, making phone call

A Court Bulletin issued by Ontario’s Ministry of Labour on June 04, 2021, details the unfortunate death of a bakery worker who took his smoke break in an area designated as an exterior loading bay. The worker was speaking on his cell phone at the time.

2168587 Ontario Ltd., operating as Upper Crust, a wholesale commercial bakery that produces and supplies baked goods to food establishments, was convicted on May 31, 2021. It operates two locations in North York, Ontario. The death in question occurred at 55 Canarctic Drive on October 25, 2018.

Following a guilty plea in provincial offences court at Old City Hall in Toronto, Upper Crust was fined a total of $325,000 for this offence by Judge Steven R. Clark.

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.

According to the Ministry of Labour Bulletin,on that date, a temporary help agency employee of 1936297 Ontario Inc. was working as a general production worker on the bread assembly line at the Canarctic location. The worker was fatally injured after being struck by a tractor-trailer reversing up to an exterior loading dock.

The tractor-trailer was operated by an employee of Stones Transport Inc., a federally regulated truck transportation company.

At the time of the incident, smoking was only permitted outside of the building in a designated smoking area. The worker had completed a work shift and left the building.

Closed circuit television (CCTV) security video recorded the worker wearing a white lab coat crouched against the exterior wall of the building, below the edge of one of the loading docks, smoking and using a cell phone.

The worker remained in that position without moving for eight minutes, during which time the tractor-trailer driver arrived to be loaded with bakery products and proceeded to back toward the loading dock.

Prior to reversing into the loading dock bay, the driver reported exiting the truck, opening the rear trailer doors, looking in the direction of the loading dock, and sounding the horn twice. The tractor-trailer was also equipped with red lights visible from the rear during reversing and an audible back-up beeping alarm that was operating at the time of the incident. The driver proceeded to reverse slowly toward the loading dock, briefly pausing twice, until contact was made with the exterior wall of the loading dock, fatally injuring the worker between the truck and the wall.

Police confirmed the reversing safety devices on the tractor-trailer were operational at the time of the incident. The external lighting in the loading bay area was also determined to be within acceptable limits by a Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development ergonomist.

There were signs stating Do Not Enter and No Trespassing in the loading bay area, but there were no signs, barriers or other safeguards alerting pedestrians or workers to the danger of reversing vehicles in the loading bay, and other workers had previously been observed standing at the corner of the loading bay.

Sufficient barriers, warning signs or other safeguards for the protection of all workers in an area where vehicle or pedestrian traffic may endanger the safety of any worker were not in place, contrary to section 25(1) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act and section 20 of Ontario Regulation 851 (the Industrial Establishments Regulation).

After the incident, the company, in response to orders from the ministry, installed additional signs alerting pedestrians to the danger of reversing vehicles in the loading bay, developed and implemented a traffic plan, and painted safety markings on the pavement.

The company also removed the cigarette butt disposal and the garbage pail from the loading bay area, relocated the designated smoking area to a different area of the property and built a roofed structure at the relocated smoking area to encourage use. The company also installed a physical barrier at the loading bay.