A Toronto, Ontario, provincial court imposed a $225,000 fine this month against a flooring manufacturer in a December 2017 accident in which a worker trapped in a wood drying kiln died from thermal injuries.
Satin Finish Hardwood Flooring Ltd. (now Prodtor Inc.) is also subject to a 25% victim fine surcharge which will be credited to a government fund to assist victims of crime.
A press release issued by the court states that the company’s factory includes three large wood-drying kilns made of sheet metal and capable of holding large quantities of wood being dried at high heat from a gas-fired appliance.
The kilns are equipped with large hanger-style doors that open to load and unload wood. Each kiln also comes with two “man doors,” one at the front and one at the rear of each kiln, through which workers enter or exit.
Inside, the kilns have no source of either natural or artificial lighting.
On the day of the accident, two workers were asked to fix a malfunctioning damper on kiln #3. The workers determined that the damper was blocked by ice from extreme weather, and that the best course of action would be to let the heat from the kiln melt the ice.
Later that day, the two workers met at kiln #3 to check the status of the damper. Despite the kiln being turned off it would be expected remain hot for some time. One of the workers climbed to the roof of the kiln to free up the frozen damper, and the other went to the kiln’s control room.
When the worker on the kiln roof returned to the ground level he found the other worker dead lying inside kiln #3. At the time, the kiln was operating at a temperature of 149 degrees Fahrenheit or 65 degrees Celsius, with very high humidity.
It was later determined that an emergency release to open the kiln door from the inside could not be operated due to corrosion.
“The defendant failed as an employer to ensure that a man door to kiln #3 could be opened by a worker from inside the kiln once the door latched closed, and failed to ensure that the man door to kiln #3 and its ‘anti-panic system’ or door lock assembly were maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions,” the press release states.