Blog Post #637 – Agrium Mine Gets Maximum Fine

Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine

A potash surface mine operator in Saskatchewan has received the province’s maximum fine after pleading guilty to a safety violation in connection with the worker fatality in 2010.

On May 11, 2010, Edward Artic, a 10-year employee with Agrium Inc.’s Vanscoy site, was working inside a hoist well when a component from a load being lifted by an overhead crane fell 6 stories and struck the 59-year-old worker in the head, killing him instantly.

Agrium pleaded guilty on May 28, 2012 to failing to provide or maintain a working environment that ensured, as far as reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of a worker. It was given the maximum fine of $300,000 and an additional $120,000 victim surcharge.

Three other charges were stayed.

Tamara Harrison, the crown prosecutor assigned to the case, explained that a maximum fine was sought because the incident resulted in a fatality, Agrium had a previous similar conviction – in 2006, a rock fell and resulted in a worker sustaining a serious injury – and judges specifically allow prosecutors to look at the fact that because the accused is a large, profitable company, the fine must be high enough to serve as a deterrent.

Agrium’s lawyer says the company “recognize that anything you can do could be done better. There is always a constellation of factors that contribute to the cause of the accident,” and Agrium was one of those factors, says Michael Tochor, partner of MacPherson, Leslie & Tyerman, LLP in Regina.

Since the incident, the company has spent $3.6 million on remedial measures at the site, located southwest of Saskatoon, Tochor notes. This includes redesigning and retrofitting the entire hoist well, reworking health and safety policies and procedures, providing financial assistance to the family and counselling for workers, and constructing a memorial tribute to Artic on the site.

Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety recently introduced amendments that would bump the maximum penalty in the cases with a serious injury or death from $300,000 to $1.5 million, making them the highest in the country. The amendments will take effect this fall.

My opinion

Wow! The province of Saskatchewan has taken the bull by the horns when it comes to workplace safety and upped the ante to ensure a better deterrent is available when dealing with unsafe employers. Good for them! It is nice to see Saskatchewan showing their big brother provinces how to get things done.

To relate, the province of Ontario has maximum personal finds of $25,000 and a possible one year in jail and a maximum fine, per contravention, of up to $500,000. Now mind you, $500,000, per contravention, is quite a deterrent and has been for a while now. It still is nice to see other provinces leading the way. I hope other provinces lacking the intestinal fortitude (not mentioning any names) will see the benefit and make changes in their provinces.

The goal for any province is to have a safe place to work for those in that province. Let us try to have EVERY worksite in Canada made safer but applying the necessary changes to legislation in your province. If you can, be a voice in your province and demand that workplace safety IS the overriding priority!

Remember – In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”


‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

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

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