Renfrew mega farm machinery collector George Nesbitt has settled with the Ministry of Labour after close to two years of dealing with muddled charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
Allis-Chalmers collector Nesbitt hasn’t quite decided to grin and bear it… but he will grudgingly pay thousands of dollars in fines levied against him by the ministry just so that he can move on with his life.
In the newspaper business, we used to call such a settlement… well, it’s a rude term signifying payment of a minimum amount on a nuisance suit just so the person behind the action will go away.
Nesbitt’s lawyer advised him ministry inspectors wouldn’t let up until they got something out of him so he decided to go for the minimum. He pointed out that his legal bill just kept growing and he isn’t backed by cash-strapped Ontario taxpayers like the ministry.
Nesbitt will pay a total of $36,270 for several convictions filed against him and his Nesbitt Aggregates Ltd. for failing to ensure that adequate safety measures and devices were in place. Every alleged shortcoming inspectors cited was rectified a long time ago but the ministry pursued him anyway.
The charges carry full fines of up to $25,000 each where an individual is named, and $500,000 each where a company is named, so Nesbitt figures he caught a break.
Although the action by the ministry was directed towards his 50-year-old custom aggregate business, it impacted his Allis-Chalmers collection housed on the same premises. Public tours of the collection held April 8 and 9 will likely be the last, Nesbitt noted.
That’s because he’s been forbidden from using employees during down time to restore his machinery collection. Restoring and painting pieces off-site is too costly and the quality isn’t as high, he explained.
Nesbitt has scaled back his main business, reduced his employee roster, and this summer he’s looking to sell his antique machinery collection valued at up to $5-million.
It all started in July of 2015 when ministry officials came to Nesbitt’s quarry and apparently didn’t like what they saw. The intervention cost him “a couple of million” dollars in lost sales which Nesbitt doubts he’ll ever recoup. His business, which specializes in ornate granite sold across North America, has been reduced to a fraction what it was.
The moral of the story: Do everything you can to stay under the radar of MOL inspectors… and any other government inspectors for that matter.