By Jonathan Martin
Highline Produce Ltd. has been convicted of failing to “take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker at a workplace," a court bulletin says.
On May 15, 2018, a farm worker at the company’s Leamington, Ont. mushroom farm was caught in a moving cable and sustained a “critical injury.” The conviction came yesterday in a Leamington courtroom.
The injured employee was working in a grow room, using a hydraulic net winch to pull netting across the mushroom beds and fill them with compost. While guiding two hydraulic winch cables into the winch, the worker got caught by one of the cables as it wrapped around the winch assembly roller, a court document revealed. The worker was pulled into the assembly and “seriously hurt.”
A Ministry of Labour investigation determined that the hydraulic net winch used by the worker didn’t have a guard protecting the worker from the pinch point.
Highline Produce Ltd. pleaded guilty to the charge in the Leamington provincial court. Justice of the Peace Susan Hoffman imposed a $75,000 fine in addition to a 25 per cent victim surcharge, which will be credited to a provincial crime victim assistance fund.
Highline Produce Ltd. is the largest organic mushroom company in Canada. It has four growing facilities in Ontario and one distribution centre in Montréal. The company’s Leamington location, which includes two farms, is its principal facility but its head office is in Toronto.
“Highline is fully committed to the safety of our workers,” Highline Produce Ltd. said in an email to Farms.com. “We will incorporate the knowledge learned from this incident to keep us moving forward and improving our safety systems through our Joint Health and Safety Committees, regular inspections and improved engineering solutions.”
Highline Produce Ltd. responded to Farms.com’s request for comment on May 17, 2019. This article has been updated to include that response.