Guelph, Ont. – Linamar Holdings Inc., operating as Roctel Manufacturing, a maker of car parts, was fined $100,000 on March 22 for a violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act that caused an injury to a worker.
On August 29, 2008, a worker at the company’s plant in Guelph started up an assembly line containing a robot cell. A robot cell is a guarded area that contains a robot to do specific work such as packaging or product testing. A conveyor belt inside the robot cell malfunctioned, stopping the entire line. The worker went into the robot cell to clear the fault in the conveyor. When the problem was fixed, the robot cell automatically resumed operation and struck the worker in the arm, breaking it.
A Ministry of Labour investigation found that the worker was required to put the robot cell in manual mode before entering it. The master key, to put the robot cell in manual mode, could be removed from the key switch in both manual and automatic modes. This allowed the worker to remove the key and walk into the robot cell while it was still in automatic mode.
Linamar Holdings Inc. pleaded guilty to failing to take the reasonable precaution of ensuring that the robot cell controller key could not be removed from the switch when the robot cell was in automatic mode.
The fine was imposed by Justice of the Peace Robert Gay. In addition to the fine, the court 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.