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Update: pleas regarding scaffolding incident

As discussed here, here and here, on Christmas Eve, 2009, four workers fell to their death at a Toronto construction site from a scaffold that did not use proper fall arrest systems. A fifth worker was seriously injured. The result: charges under both the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Criminal Code of Canada were filed against the individuals and companies involved in the construction project.

Since then, things have happened. On June 15, 2012, one company (Metron Construction) entered a guilty plea to one charge of criminal negligence causing death under the Criminal Code. Also, the company’s president pleaded guilty to four contraventions of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, involving the failure as a company director to ensure that Metron Construction complied with the health and safety legislation:

  • Two counts under section 26.2 of the Construction Regulations including failing to take reasonable care to ensure a worker using a fall protection system was adequately trained; and that there were proper records of training (including names of workers and dates of training)
  • One count under section 93 Construction Regulations of failing to take reasonable care to ensure a suspended scaffold was maintained in a condition that did not endanger a worker or was defective or hazardous
  • One count under section 134 of failing to ensure that a suspended platform complied with all aspects of the Construction Regulations

At this point, the president has not as yet been sentenced for the above admitted failures under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, but the sentence will likely involve a fine in an amount presented by both parties in a joint submission to the court. Also, the company, Metron Construction, has not been sentenced under the Criminal Code, but it is interesting to note that there would be no maximum limit on a fine under this statute.

We are paying attention to the result in this case due to the severity of the misconduct and unfortunate results concerning the workers. Additionally, this is the first corporate guilty plea in Ontario under the Criminal Code since the amendments took effect in 2004. That is, Bill C-45 changed the Criminal Code to impose harsher consequences on corporations in cases of criminal negligence causing death for a workplace accident.

Christina Catenacci
First Reference Human Resources and Compliance Editor

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Christina Catenacci

Christina Catenacci, BA, LLB, LLM, was called to the Ontario Bar in 2002 and has since been a member of the Ontario Bar Association. Christina worked as an editor with First Reference between February 2005 and August 2015, working on publications including The Human Resources Advisor (Ontario, Western and Atlantic editions), HRinfodesk discussing topics in Labour and Employment Law. Christina has decided to pursue a PhD at the University of Western Ontario beginning in the fall of 2015. Read more
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