No Lockout Plan Kills Landscaper

A landscaping company that didn't have a proper lockout policy for its employees has been hit with a $130,000 fine.

What happened?

In October of 2003 a worker for Hermanns Contracting Limited in Ontario was inside the cargo box of a seed-spreading truck. He was shoveling material so it wouldn't block a feeder.

The worker had shouted to his assistant to shut off power to the cargo box's moving parts, which included a conveyor belt, two metal augers and a center shaft. The assistant shut off the power using a remote control unit on his belt.

After a few minutes, the worker (still inside the box) shouted to the assistant to turn the power back on. When the flow of soil from the hose stopped, the assistant cut the power and looked into the cargo box. He saw the worker caught between the center shaft and one of the augers.

A coroner's report indicated the worker died of multiple blunt force trauma. The employee had only been on the job for about six weeks.

The investigation

A Ministry of Labour investigation found that safety material from the blower truck's manufacturer warned never to enter the cargo box to unclog augers or assist material without performing lockout procedures. This included shutting down the truck engine and removing the engine key.

The ministry found that Hermanns Contracting had no written lockout procedures for entering the cargo box. In addition, there was no instruction or training for the deceased worker or other workers regarding removing the key to lock out power. In fact, it was common practice for company employees to enter the cargo box and shovel material while power to moving parts was on.

The plea

The company pleaded guilty to failing to ensure the cargo box had maintenance work performed on it only when the motion of moving parts had been stopped.

Info to go:

For information on lockout/tagout safety, visit

Tony Moscioni
Electrical Inspector
Electrical Safety Authority