Blog Post #210 – Alberta Court Triples Safety Penalty

Blog Post #210 – Alberta Court Triples Safety Penalty

Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine

An Alberta court has more than tripled the fine issued against an employer last year in connection with a deadly work-related accident, concluding the lower court imposed an “unfit” sentence.

Justice Sterling Sanderman of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta fined the employer, Independent Automatic Sprinkler Ltd., $350,000 under the Occupational Health and Safety Act — dwarfing the $100,000 penalty ordered by a lower court judge last August.

In his April 30 ruling, Justice Sanderman notes the fine “was demonstrably unfit” and that the circumstances of the accident warrant a higher penalty. “A fine of $100,000 does not recognize the seriousness of the consequences of the degree of negligence,” he writes.

On May 15, 2005, four employees were helping to construct a gymnasium facility in Grande Prairie, Alberta. The team included two journeyman pipefitters tasked with installing a fire suppression sprinkler system at the ceiling level of a stairwell in the gym.

The pipefitters used a material lift — a set of forks and a series of sections that raise the forks when a hand crank is used — instead of a man lift that had been used to raise them to the ceiling elsewhere in the facility. Justice Sanderman points out, however, that the material “lift was never designed nor intended for hoisting or lifting people.”

The ruling notes one worker, Albin Trahan, placed a wooden pallet on the lift’s forks, covered the pallet with two pieces of strand board and then positioned a ladder on top so he could climb the more than eight metres to install the sprinkler. Another worker, Elmer Stroshin, was standing on the pallet to steady the ladder, which was resting against the stairwell wall.

As Trahan “climbed the ladder, the material lift began to tip and the step ladder moved away from the wall,” resulting in both workers falling “with catastrophic results,” Justice Sanderman writes. Trahan sustained fatal injuries when his head struck a guardrail; Stroshin hit a piece of metal protruding from the guardrail and fell to a lower landing, suffering paralysis of the legs and “lower trunk below the chest.”

The Crown argued the sentence of the trial judge was “a substantial and marked departure” from penalties customarily imposed for similar incidents. Justice Sanderman agreed, pointing out the trial judge made “specific findings in relation to the foresee the ability of someone falling.”

My opinion

Everyone knows I have been critical about the workplace accident prevention standards for the province of Alberta’s and their true intentions and credibility concerning their workforce. I have made my views known time and time again.

There are times, however, that I must alter my conception when I find something out of the ordinary and congratulate Alberta for doing the right thing. (Not often, but there are times)

Listed above we find that a lower court ruling and subsequent fine was not sufficient with the circumstances. FINALLY! I have always agreed with stiff fines to deter this type of disregard for the employees. The Ministry of Labour, for the Province of Ontario, would never have allowed the company to get away with what amounts to a slap on the wrist.

Deterrence, that is the name of the game. The employer MUST understand that the responsibility of the safety of the employee lies with them. Only then will employees work in a climate of relative safety and the need for review of inadequate rulings and fines made unnecessary.

Good for you, Alberta. I do hope that a review of many of your other issues, such as the Mitchell Tanner accident, will be reviewed, overturned and possible larger fines or new investigations implemented. That particular incident still upsets me to this day. If the readership does not know of the Mitchell Tanner accident, please review the very first blog written by the author. I was angry at the outcome and have been driven since to get the word out about the great need for worker health and safety. Everything from Bill C-45 to today’s issues will be discussed.

On behalf of myself and the company of HRSGroup Inc., I had to congratulate Alberta for correcting a monumental error at the lower court level. Maybe the need to toughen up the lower court judges is needed. Now THAT would be one hell of a permanent corrective action plan, now wouldn’t it?

Remember — In Ontario and all places across Canada, including Alberta, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”

HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs including ‘Fall Protection’ and Working at Heights’. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.

We can also be reached at

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Foundation Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.



  1. Marjory

    I think we have seen your best.

  2. Cal Hobbs

    No one writes the way you do.

  3. Henry

    Very neat article post. Thanks Again. Awesome.

  4. Cyndy

    I think you have a point.

  5. Karen De Rosen

    I want to see more.

  6. Linda Whitehead

    This kind of information is important to all of us.

  7. Al Bunge

    I wanted to thank you for all the great information you are providing.

  8. Natalie

    This is real good.

  9. Sharon Woodhouse

    I think we have a winner here.

  10. Hogan

    Wonderfully done!

  11. Emily Bedford

    Nicely done!

  12. Carla

    Just one more please.

  13. Casper

    I want to see more.

  14. Morely

    Yes, I see your point!

  15. Janet Hachey

    I want more of the same.

  16. The Mitchells

    We like what you are doing here.

  17. Linda Whitehead

    You have my attention.

  18. Cassidy

    You have a gift!

  19. Janet Hoy

    I’ve acquired more information here than anywhere else.

  20. Sally

    I wanted to thank you for all the great information you are providing.

  21. Penny

    I wanted to thank you for all the great information you are providing.

  22. Marcus

    You have my attention!

  23. Kenneth

    You have an amazing gift!

  24. Rose

    The whole world seems to know about you.

  25. Tony

    One of your very best!

  26. Andrea

    Usually I do not read post on blogs, however I would like to say that this write-up very pressured me to check out and do so!

  27. Shannon

    There is none better.

  28. Carlton

    That little one is still a very good posting!

  29. Webster

    Thank you so much!

  30. Latrina

    Keep up the good work.

  31. Jeff

    Good for you!

  32. Ken

    I wanted to thank you for all the great information you are providing.

  33. Edward

    Many thanks!

  34. Jessie McGhee

    It’s about time!!!

  35. Ramon

    I see a lot of interesting articles on your website. You have to spend a lot of time writing.

  36. Demetrius Barklow

    Hey! Quick question that’s entirely off topic. Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly?

  37. Iola Carreira

    Sweet blog! I found it while surfing around on Yahoo News.

  38. Sean

    Hello Web Admin, I noticed that your On-Page SEO is is missing a few factors.

  39. Sergio


  40. Spencer

    Many thanks!

  41. Maureen Chamberlain

    I wanted to thank you for all the great information you are providing!

  42. Michelle

    You are one of the best!

  43. Barkley

    You are the best!

  44. Wendy


  45. Terry

    I cannot wait to read more!

  46. Warren

    Good luck!

  47. Beatrice

    I wanted to thank you for all the great information you are providing.

  48. Tricia

    At this time, I am going to do my breakfast and once having my breakfast coming again to read further articles!

  49. Ian

    I wanted to thank you for all the great information you are providing!

  50. George Mahoney

    You are the best!

  51. Christian

    I needed this!

  52. Michael Sandstone

    Good luck!

  53. Sauron

    I thank you for all of this!

  54. Amber

    Many thanks!

  55. Cecil and Terry


  56. Sommer

    I will return soon!

  57. Xander

    I wanted to thank you for all the great information you are providing.

  58. Zachary

    I wonder what comes next.

  59. Wanda

    I wonder what comes next?

  60. Becky

    World class!

  61. Jordan

    Best one yet!

  62. Michael Korvino


  63. Bannion

    I thank you.

  64. Lennie

    I needed to see this!

  65. Merrill

    I will be back soon!

  66. Carter

    I will come back soon!

  67. Chandler

    I love coming here!

  68. Xavier Casebier

    Excellent work!

  69. Michael Korsten

    You have a gift!

  70. Janet Hoy

    You are the best!

  71. Walter

    You are the best!

  72. Jamie Brooks

    Thanks for sharing, this is a fantastic article.

  73. Warner

    Howdy! Quick question that’s completely off topic. Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly?

  74. Gale

    I really like your blog.. very nice colors and theme.

  75. Helen

    You are amazing!

  76. Charla

    Helpful Information.

  77. Cornell

    More of the same information!

  78. Corrine

    Just wish to say your article is surprisingly interesting!

  79. Todd

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  80. Bettie

    More of the same!

  81. Liam

    I’m really enjoying the design and layout of your website.

  82. Mona

    Hi everyone, it’s my first visit here.

  83. Erin

    You managed to hit the nail on the head!

  84. Jerilyn

    Great website!

  85. Merri

    Spot on with this write-up.

  86. Tina


  87. Lois

    Well done!

Post a comment