SUDBURY -- SMC Ltd., a company that extracts and recovers precious metals in mining mills near Cobalt, has been fined $75,000 for a 2019 incident in which a worker sustained serious injuries.

In a news release Tuesday, the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development said the incident took place Feb. 7, 2019, in Cobalt.

"A worker suffered a critical injury after becoming entangled in machinery," the release said. "The machinery should have had a guard to prevent workers from coming into contact with moving parts."

The court also imposed a 25 per cent victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act. The surcharge is given to a special provincial government fund to assist victims of crime.

The worker was employed at McAlpine Mill near the town of Cobalt and was assigned to work in the crusher house where ore is moved through the crushing process on various conveyors before being processed in the mill.

Conveor belt was slipping

A conveyor belt in the crusher house was not working properly. When a conveyor belt slips and does not work as intended, belt dressing is applied to improve traction.

"The worker was asked by a millwright to go to the head end of the conveyor to apply belt dressing to help address the slipping belt," the ministry said. "The worker was not given specific instructions on how to complete this task and was not directed to a designated location where the spray could be applied in a safe manner while the belt was running. Also, the head pulley area of the conveyor was not equipped with a guard to protect a worker from a pinch point."

Standing on a small mound of spilled loose gravel, the worker stood near the head pulley and applied the spray while the belt was in motion. While repositioning the product from one hand to the other, the worker lost footing and slipped towards the running belt, becoming entangled between the running belt and the conveyor frame.

"The worker suffered a critical injury as a result," the release said. "The injury required transportation to Sudbury for medical attention."

The company was convicted because it didn't have policies in place to allow workers to apply belt dressing safely while the conveyor was in motion.