Sof Surface and Express Employment face charges in 2013 industrial accident


Two companies are facing charges after a Petrolia man lost a foot in an industrial accident.

On Oct. 9, 2013, Mario LaFond was working at Sof Surfaces in Petrolia making lids at one of the presses. While a coworker went to get a piece of equipment, LaFond’s foot was crushed by the press.

Doctors had to remove it after three days. He has left Petrolia but has yet to return to any kind of work.

After a year of investigation, the Ontario Ministry of Labour has charged Sof Surfaces Inc. and Express Employment Services of Sarnia under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Ministry spokesperson William Lin says five charges were laid in court in October against Sof Surfaces on Discovery Line in connection with the incident and one other was laid against Express Employment Services based in Sarnia which provides human resource services for the Petrolia company.

The Occupational Health and Safety Act clearly lays out how employers must protect workers using guarding around presses, the supervision necessary around the equipment and the training

The charges against Sof Surfaces say “the defendant failed to provide adequate information, instruction or supervision to a worker cleaning the C2 Carousel and/ or Press…and failed to take the reasonable precaution of ensuring a worker was kept a safe distance from the C2 Carousel and/ or Press before any…and/or having a written safety procedure for cleaning the C2 Carousel and Press,” says Lin.

The charge against Express Employment alleges it “failed to provide adequate information, instruction or supervision to a worker with respect to the hazard …to the provisions of the Occupational Health and Safety Act …and/or with respect to lockout procedures and/or de-energization of energy sources.”

The companies can face fines of up to $500,000 if convicted of the charges. The fines are usually much smaller. There were 780 convictions in 2013/2014 and with $9.3 million in fines levied.

Sof Surfaces and Express Employment will return to court in January.

Krystal Racicot, LaFond’s partner, was expect there would be any charges laid.

“That’s great,” she told The Independent. “It should have never happened…There should have been better training.”

The accident has taken a toll on LaFond and his family. They’ve moved from Petrolia–LaFond back to his hometown of New Liskeard and Racicot and the children to the Orillia area.

Racicot says LaFond has had a difficult time since the accident and it lead to the couple’s separation.

In the meantime, the province is in the middle of an Industrial Workplace Hazard’s safety blitz. Ministry of Labour inspectors are visiting all types of manufacturing companies until Dec. 14 to ensure employers are taking “appropriate action to assess and address possible hazards involving machines that are not properly guarded, locked out or blocked,” according to a ministry news release.

Lin says figures from the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board show in 2012 there were 1,976 people who were caught in or compressed by equipment; 367 of them had body parts amputated in the accidents.