Excerpt from the Government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’
Joel Swartz, the director of Metron Construction Corporation, a Toronto constructor, was fined $90,000 after pleading guilty to violations of the Occupational Health and Safety Act after four workers were killed and another worker was seriously injured.
On December 24, 2009, six workers were on a suspended work platform, also known as a swing stage, at a construction project on Kipling Ave. in Toronto. The swing stage collapsed and fell 13 floors, killing four of the workers and seriously injuring another worker. The only worker properly attached to fall protection was held by the lifeline and pulled to safety.
A Ministry of Labour investigation found that the deceased workers had not been properly tied off to a lifeline, and had not been properly trained in the use of fall protection. The swing stage had been overloaded and it was later determined to be defective and hazardous.
Joel Swartz pleaded guilty under the Occupational Health and Safety Act to failing, as a director, to take all reasonable care to ensure that:
• workers did not use a defective or hazardous swing stage
• the swing stage was not loaded in excess of the weight it was meant to bear
• workers were adequately trained in the use of fall protection by a competent person
• Metron Construction Corporation prepared and maintained written training and instruction records for each worker
Metron Construction Corporation was convicted of criminal negligence causing death and was fined $200,000 in relation to the same incident. Metron’s conviction was pursuant to amendments to the Criminal Code of Canada relating to workplace safety which have been in force since 2004. The criminal charges were laid by the police.
The fines were imposed by Judge Bigelow of the Ontario Court of Justice. In addition to the OHSA fines, 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.
Other defendants facing charges stemming from this incident are still before the court.
The law(s) in contravention:
Joel Swartz, the Director of Metron Construction Corporation, was found guilty of violating section 26.2 (1) of the Ontario ‘Construction’ regulation 213/91 which states,
“An employer shall ensure that a worker who may use a fall protection system is adequately trained in its use and given adequate oral and written instructions by a competent person.”
Joel Swartz was also found guilty of violating section 26.2 (3) of the Ontario ‘Construction’ regulation 213/91 which states,
“The training and instruction record shall include the worker’s name and the dates on which training and instruction took place.”
Joel Swartz was also found guilty of violating section 93, sub-section 2(a) of the Ontario ‘Construction’ regulation 213/91 which states,
“No vehicle, machine, tool or equipment shall be used while it is defective or hazardous.”
Finally, Joel Swartz was found guilty of violating section 134, sub-section 3 of the Ontario ‘Construction’ regulation 213/91 which states,
“ Every scaffold platform and other work platform shall be designed, constructed and maintained to support or resist, without exceeding the allowable unit stresses for the materials of which it is constructed,
(a) all loads and forces to which it is likely to be subjected.”
What else can one say in the worst ‘Fall Protection’ accident to happen in Ontario in many years?
By the way, the Ontario government did not agree with the amount of the fine to Metron ($200,000) for the 4 deaths and the permanent disability of a 5th person so they have appealed. The final outcome was a total fine of $750,000 and I believe the surcharge was 25% of the total which would be $187,500. Added to the total we have a more apt fine of $937,500.
To some, this may still be on the low side but it shows due diligence by the MOL and the Government of Ontario to keep accidents to a minimum at the workplace. The message has to be loud and clear.
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 ‘Fall Protection’ and Working at Heights’. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.
‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.
Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Foundation Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.
P.S. The new course I am taking is called ‘Effective Workplace Training’. There are so many things to consider including training styles, learning styles from a training perspective and many other issues. I will discuss this more in detail as I move forward.