In their report released on Thursday, inspectors Mathieu Ruel and Daniel Lemieux indicate that the death of the 34-year-old worker occurred when he was dragged towards the blender he was handling. After mixing and distributing a first ration, the worker opened the mixer’s discharge door to clean the environment, while the machine was still running.
He was swept away when he came into contact with the blade of an auger in the machine and was then crushed against the walls of the machine.
The CNESST indicates that there was no protective device to prevent access to the discharge door, such as a permanently welded grate or a device to block access when the device is in operation, as occurred that morning. Such a device should have been present.
The Commission notes, however, that the employer quickly complied with its requirement to add such protectors. A grate has been installed to block access to the top of the mixer and another prevents access to the discharge door.
“When purchasing equipment, a risk analysis must be carried out. Subsequently, we will be able to identify the appropriate protections that we must implement to prevent access to dangerous areas,” recalls Mathieu Ruel.
There are still many accidents in agricultural areas.
For the presentation of this report, the CNESST summoned the media to its offices in Trois-Rivières. A practice that is not new, but is not necessarily common, while reports are often disseminated only through press releases.
If the Commission proceeded in this way it is because it considered it pertinent to recall good safety practices, particularly in the agricultural sector, where numerous occupational accidents still occur. In 2022, there were six fatal work accidents in agriculture, out of a total of 69 deaths.
“It is an environment with many different risks: moving parts, work at height, work with animals, the gases that we can have in the silos… they are small environments that do not necessarily have many resources, that operate 24 hours a day, the 7 days a week, so it is certain that agricultural producers have a lot (to manage). But they must work in collaboration with their workers to identify these risks,” emphasizes Robert Larouche, director of the prevention and inspection service of Mauricie and the Québec Center of the CNESST.
The Commission also indicates that it will transmit the report of this fatal accident to several associations, in particular the Union of Agricultural Producers, the Producteurs de lait du Québec, the Association of Agricultural Machinery Traders of Quebec, the Agricultural Machinery Association Quebec Wholesalers and Canadian Agricultural Safety Association. The document will also be distributed to training establishments that offer study programs in agriculture, in order to raise awareness among future workers.
Regarding specific training on risks with machines like the one involved in this fatal accident, Larouche indicates that there is no specific study plan or model to follow. It is up to each employer to provide it in the way it considers appropriate and effective.
“It is not defined in hours of training, but what we expect are the results,” he explains.
The CNESST confirmed that the worker who died at Ferme Norlou had received training on the dangers present in his workplace. However, he could not say whether the fact that he was a foreign worker could have affected his understanding of this training.
“Employers must train, inform and supervise their employees, whether they are Quebecers or not, they have the same obligations. Sometimes the difficulty of the language barrier may arise, but the entrepreneur must ensure that the information is understood,” recalls Mr. Larouche.