Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’
J.R. Contracting Property Services Ltd., a Woodbridge company engaged in garbage removal and hauling, and a supervisor have been found guilty of failing to ensure the safety of a worker who fell off a roof. The company was fined $75,000 and the supervisor has been sentenced to 45 days in jail. A company representative has also been fined $2,000 for obstructing a Ministry of Labour investigation.
On October 15, 2008, workers were sent to an address on Meadowvale Road in Toronto to remove shingles from a one-storey bungalow. One of the workers was tossing loose shingles from the roof toward a bin and stepped back, then slipped. The worker rolled off the roof of the house and landed on a walkway. The injury resulted in permanent paralysis of the lower body. A Ministry of Labour investigation followed the incident.
The injured worker testified to not being trained in the use of fall protection equipment, nor was any such equipment provided in the company-supplied truck used for transportation to and from the job site. As well, the worker indicated that the practice for payment for work was cash and that work was provided on an on-call basis. The worker identified J.R. Contracting Property Services as the employer and Teisha (Tina) Lootawan as the supervisor.
The court determined that the worker was an employee under the definition of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), and that J.R. Contracting Property Services was the employer. The court also determined that Lootawan was a supervisor under the OHSA. As such, she failed as a supervisor to ensure that a worker wore protective devices as required by law, and failed as a supervisor to take the reasonable precaution of ensuring that an adequate form of fall protection was provided where a worker is exposed to a fall hazard of more than three metres.
As the Ministry of Labour investigation proceeded, the company was requested to provide documentation that included employment and telephone records. A company representative, Andrew Joshua Haniff – who accepted the call from the Meadowvale Road homeowner requesting the company’s services – attended a meeting on December 23, 2008, but refused to answer any of the inspector’s questions. He was convicted by the court of obstructing an inspector.
The jail sentence and fines were imposed by Justice of the Peace Mary A. Ross Hendriks. The court heard seven days of testimony over 2011 and 2012; judgment was passed April 18, 2013.
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.
The law(s) in contravention:
J.R. Contracting Property Services Ltd. was found guilty of a contravention of section 25, subsection 2 (a) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, (OHSA) which states,
“An employer shall,
(a) provide information, instruction and supervision to a worker to protect the health or safety of the worker.”
J.R Contracting Property Services Ltd., was also found guilty of a contravention of section 25, subsection 2(h) of the OHSA which states,
“An employer shall,
(h) Take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker.”
Teisha (Tina) Lootawan, the supervisor in this case, was found guilty of a contravention of section 27, subsection 1 (a) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, (OHSA) which states,
“A supervisor shall ensure that a worker,
(a) Works in the manner and with the protective devices, measures and procedures required by this Act and the regulations.”
Teisha (Tina) Lootawan and/or Andrew Joshua Haniff was also convicted of violating section 27, subsection 2 (c) which states,
“A supervisor shall,
Take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker.”
I wonder if this company felt that contractors are not defined as employees. WRONG!
All workers are entitled to a safe work area. Fall Protection, now under the new legislation ‘Working at Heights’ demonstrates the government of Ontario’s need to ensure that all workers are better protected and employers do not cut any corners.
Too bad this employer did not see fit to protect one of its own employees. The worker now has a lifetime of pain and suffering and $77,000, plus a 25% victim fine surcharge ($19,250) for a total of $96, 250 is surely not enough. The long term costs for this person could easily reach into the millions.
Please ensure your workforce and workplace have a safety first culture. Your workers will certainly be glad you did.
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’,Working at Heights’, ‘Due Diligence’ and ‘Supervisor and Health and Safety Law’. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.
‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.
Daniel L. Beal – CHSEP – Advanced
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.