Blog Post #650 – Worker Fined $1,500 for Not Using Fall Protection

Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s “Newsroom’

Christopher Schwaemmie, a Toronto hoist worker, was fined $1,500 for a violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

On October 12, 2011, Christopher Schwaemmie was on a hoist tower at a construction project located at 717 Sheppard Avenue West in Toronto. He jumped from the tower to a nearby roof. The jump was seen by a Ministry of Labour inspector. The inspector saw that Mr. Schwaemmie was wearing a fall protection harness and lanyard, but the lanyard was not tied off to anything. The hoist tower he jumped from was approximately 15.24 metres (50 feet) above the ground.

Christopher Schwaemmie pleaded guilty to failing to be adequately protected by a method of fall protection while exposed to a fall of more than three metres (9.8 feet).

The fine was imposed by Justice of the Peace Mary A. Ross Hendriks. 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:

Christopher Schwaemmie was found guilty of a contravention of section 28, subsection 1 (a) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) which states,

“A worker shall,

(a) Work in compliance with the provisions of this Act and the regulations.”

He was also found guilty of a contravention of section 26.1, subsection 2 of the Ontario ‘Construction’ regulation 213/91 which states,

“If it is not practicable to install a guardrail system as that subsection requires, a worker shall be adequately protected by the highest ranked method that is practicable from the following ranking of fall protection methods:

1. A travel restraint system that meets the requirements;

2. A fall restricting system that meets the requirements; or

3. A fall arrest system.

I was really glad to have found this one to show that even a worker can receive a fine for not following the regulations. Christopher knew very well, by wearing a harness and lanyard, that it was the right thing to do. Maybe he felt that he only had to wear the equipment but not use it. Well, section 28 subsection 1(a) covers the need for the worker to understand that the regulation needed to be complied with. Christopher was fully aware of the issue but chose to ignore it.

It is a human trait to attempt to get away with things if no one is looking. Please ensure that you, as a worker, protect yourself at all times and use the safety equipment your employer has provided and take the training they also provide. The expectation is to apply that knowledge.

Christopher Schwaemmie did not fully believe the government of Ontario, through the Ministry of Labour, is serious about their enforcement of the law. I bet he does now.

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.

We can also be reached at

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

Daniel L. Beal

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

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