Blog Post #783 – Toronto Builder, Masonry Company Both Fined in Death of Worker

Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’

Roswell Construction Inc., a builder, and Blue River Masonry Ltd., a masonry contractor, have both pleaded guilty and have been fined a combined total of $170,000 in the death of a worker who fell from scaffolding.

On October 19, 2013, a worker employed by Blue River Masonry was working with others on a residential construction project on Birch Avenue in Toronto, bricking exterior walls for homes being built by Roswell Construction. Scaffolding from which the bricklayers would work were erected facing north and facing west, with three levels of deck.

Workers were in the process of bricking the west exterior wall from the third level of the west scaffold. It had begun to rain and a decision was made to stop work for the day. Ladders had not been provided and one worker accessed the north scaffold to reach the west scaffold in order to retrieve tools that had been left at the third level. While doing so the worker fell between the scaffold and the building. Rain had made the scaffolding slippery, and the third deck was 6.3 meters to the ground. The worker suffered fatal head injuries in the fall.

A Ministry of Labour investigation found that the north scaffolding from which the worker fell had numerous components missing:

· entire guardrails in multiple locations on the second and third levels;
· planks without guardrails were used to cross the gaps between the north and west scaffold platforms;
· various rails and cross-brace connections were not secured;
· scaffold planks were of inadequate width and were not cleated or secured against slipping.

No ladders were provided by the employer to access the scaffolding; access was by climbing the metal supports of the north scaffold. These were all violations of Section 125(1) of the Construction Projects Regulation.

Blue River failed to ensure compliance as an employer, and Roswell failed as constructor to ensure compliance with the requirements by its contractor. Both pleaded guilty in Toronto court. Blue River received a fine of $80,000 and Roswell Construction received a fine of $90,000 from Justice of the Peace Esme Lall on May 14, 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:

Blue River Masonry Ltd. Was found guilty of a contravention of the Ontario ‘Construction’ regulation 213/91, section 125(1) which states,

“Where work cannot be done on or from the ground or from a building or other permanent structure without hazard to workers, a worker shall be provided with a scaffold, a suspended work platform, a boatswain’s chair or a multi-point suspended work platform that meets the requirements of this Regulation.”

Roswell Construction Inc. was found guilty of a violation of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), section 23, subsection (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.”

Blue River Masonry Ltd. Was also found guilty of a contravention of the OHSA, section 25, subsection (1)(c) which states,

“An employer shall ensure that,

(c) the measures and procedures prescribed are carried out in the workplace.”

I see this every day. Actually, the development where I live had the same thing going on right outside my house! A young man was carrying a running quick-cut saw and climbing the framing on unguarded scaffolding. Sound familiar! Actually, the bricklayer boss accused us of being one of the reasons why accidents happened. His explanation included, along the lines of not being able to do the job, having too many restrictions. I added the word safely, Yes, I sure make it hard to work unsafe!

The Ministry of Labour (MOL) was called out to the site twice and things have improved. (Only marginally)

HRS Group Inc. is now a provider of ‘Working at Heights’ and we sure know what we are talking about! The site supervisor for our development has since been removed and replaced. Things are much better now but I think my home constructor needs to have a crash course in ‘Due Diligence’ and updated ‘Supervisory’ training. Give Deborah a call at 1 (705) 749-1259 and we can lead you in the right direction! We even offer group rates to better serve our customers.

Ensure 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 ‘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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