A Toronto, Ontario-based hardwood flooring manufacturer has been fined $225,000 ($172,424.25 USD) after an employee became trapped in a kiln and died, the Ontario Ministry of Labour announced.
The incident occurred at Satin Finish Hardwood Flooring’s prefinished hardwood flooring plant in December 2017. At the time, two workers were tasked with fixing a malfunctioning damper on one of the dry kilns. They determined the damper was frozen open and decided to allow heat from the kiln to melt the ice. They later met back at the kiln to check the damper’s status, and after turning off the kiln, one worker went into the kiln’s control room. He couldn’t be found later, and he was discovered lying unresponsive on the floor of the kiln with no vital signs. The kiln had been operating at a temperature of 149 degrees with “very high humidity,” according to the Ministry of Labour’s investigation.
The investigation discovered that the push bar used to release the kiln’s door latch from inside of the kiln could not be opened from the inside.
“Corrosion was observed under the push bar and cracks seen in the body of the man door on the kiln-facing side,” the ministry stated. A corroded “push pin” within the push bar had prevented it from opening, which the ministry concluded was the direct cause of the worker’s death.
“The manufacturer’s instructions for the door lock assembly outlines routine maintenance on the door lock assembly, including checking for corrosion of metal parts,” the ministry said. “The defendant [Satin Finish Hardwood Flooring] did not have a preventative maintenance schedule at the workplace for the door assembly, and the door lock assembly was not maintained as recommended by the manufacturer.” Weather stripping and metal around the push bar had also deteriorated and corroded, allowing for openings that created moist air to enter and corrode the door lock, the ministry added.