Blog Post #785 – Company and Employers Fined After Kingston Fire That Endangered Workers, Injured Crane Operator

Blog Post #785 – Company and Employers Fined After Kingston Fire That Endangered Workers, Injured Crane Operator

Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’

Following a fire at a construction project in Kingston that led to a crane operator being rescued by military helicopter, three individuals and the company that employed the workers have pleaded guilty in court and fined a total of $74,000.

On December 17, 2013, a five-storey residential construction project located at 663 Princess Street in Kingston caught fire. Workers were evacuated and unharmed, but the worker who was operating a crane was forced to flee the cab and crawl out on the boom of the crane, and was rescued by a military helicopter; that worker suffered burns.

The Office of the Fire Marshal of Ontario investigated but was not able to obtain any specific details about the cause or origin of the fire. Almost the entire structure succumbed to the flames. Due to the amount of water used to fight the fire and the extreme cold temperatures, the structure and much of the surrounding area was covered in ice, presenting a significant challenge to the investigation. The Ministry of Labour also investigated the project site over a period of four months.

The ministry determined that Jay Patry Enterprises Inc., the company building the project, was the constructor and its owners, Jay and Nathan Patry, were its senior managers. Another individual, Troy Joseph Stelmach of Stelmach Property Management Inc., worked on the project in a supervisory capacity.

Based on the available evidence, the ministry was able to determine that insufficient standpipe – an assembly of pipes and fittings that conveys water to outlets – had been installed at the project site. A standpipe is required to mitigate against potential harm from fire.

Jay Patry Enterprises Inc. pleaded guilty of failing as a constructor to ensure that measures in the Construction Projects Regulation were carried out. Section 57 in the regulation requires that as construction proceeds in a building with two or more storeys, a permanent or temporary standpipe shall be installed to within two storeys of the uppermost work level and that every hose outlet with a permanent standpipe shall have a valve. While standpipe risers had been installed to the fifth level of the project, contractors were still working to install hose valves past the ground level as of the date of the fire. The fine for the violation was $60,000.

Jason and Nathan Patry, owners of the company, pleaded guilty for failing to furnish all necessary means in their power to facilitate an investigation by an inspector.

Jason Patry was fined $7,500 and Nathan Patry was fined $4,000. Troy Joseph Stelmach pleaded guilty to the same charge and was fined $2,500.

Sentencing took place on May 15 in Kingston court by the Honourable Justice Allan G. Letourneau.

In a separate trial proceeding last month, the crane company, A & A Crane Inc. of Waterdown was found guilty of failing to comply with a requirement of an inspector in relation to a project located at 663 Princess Street, Kingston, and fined $8,000.

The crane company’s owner, Aram Malek of Hamilton, was convicted of two counts under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. He was found guilty of knowingly furnishing an inspector with false information or neglecting or refusing to furnish information required by an inspector, and to failing to furnish all necessary means in the person’s power to facilitate any entry, search, inspection, investigation, examination, testing or inquiry by an inspector. He was fined $10,000 and $9,000 respectively. Those fines were imposed on April 30, 2015.

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

My opinion

The law(s) in contravention:

Jay Patry Enterprises Inc. was found guilty of a contravention of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, (OHSA), section 23(1)(a) which states,

“A constructor shall ensure, on a project undertaken by the constructor that,

(a) the measures and procedures prescribed by this Act and the regulations are carried out on the project.”

Jay Patry Enterprises Inc. was also found guilty of a contravention of the Ontario ‘Construction’ regulation 213/91, section 57, subsection (1) which states,

“As construction proceeds in a building with two or more storeys, a permanent or temporary standpipe shall be installed to within two storeys of the uppermost work level.”

Jason Patry and Nathan Patry and Troy Joseph Stelmach were each found guilty of a contravention of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act, (OHSA) section 62(2)(a) which states,

“Every person shall furnish all necessary means in the person’s power to facilitate any entry, search, inspection, investigation, examination, testing or inquiry by an inspector,

(b) in the execution of a warrant issued under this Act or the Provincial Offences Act with respect to a matter under this Act or the regulations.”

I was very surprised to see the size of the fines in this matter. I believe that the Canadian Criminal Code (under Bill C-45) should have been used and jail time issued. Section 217.1 of the Canadian Criminal Code states,

“Every one who undertakes, or has the authority, to direct how another person does work or performs a task is under a legal duty to take reasonable steps to prevent bodily harm to that person, or any other person, arising from that work or task.”

The Canadian Criminal Code definition for ‘Criminal Negligence’ states,

“Section 219, (1) Everyone is criminally negligent who
(a) in doing anything, or
(b) in omitting to do anything that it is his duty to do,

shows wanton or reckless disregard for the lives or safety of other persons.”

With very little difference could there have been a death arising from the fire. Thanks to the military the life of the crane operator was saved but the full extent of the injuries was never actually reported by the Ministry of Labour (MOL). I wonder if he/she ever did get back on a crane. I hope that all’s well that ends well and he/she was able to begin again.

Please ensure that your workplace is a safe place.

Remember – In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”

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

We can also be reached at info@hrsgroup.com

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

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

Dan
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