Post #359 – Individual Fined $15,000 after Refusing to Cooperate With Ministry Inspectors

Post #359 – Individual Fined $15,000 after Refusing to Cooperate With Ministry Inspectors

Excerpt from the Government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’

Marcelo Ponciano, a representative with Toronto-based Asbescan Environmental Company Inc., was fined $15,000 on June 22, 2011, for violating the Occupational Health and Safety Act, after refusing to cooperate with Ministry of Labour inspectors.

On February 17, 2009, a ministry inspector visited a house renovation project on Roxton Road in Toronto and found live electrical wires, poor housekeeping and debris that could potentially contain asbestos. The inspector issued stop-work orders on the project, including one requiring the project owner to produce a designated substance report.

Two days later, ministry inspectors visited the site after they were notified that the house interior had been cleaned, a violation of the stop-work order. They were approached by Ponciano, who said he was called in to handle the asbestos concerns. The inspectors told him that as a result of the cleanup, a ministry hygienist would need to take samples the next day at the worksite and that no work was to be done without the hygienist present.

The following morning, ministry inspectors found Ponciano with two other workers. An inspector told Ponciano that no work was to be performed until the hygienist arrived. Ponciano then reached over the stop-work barrier to take a sample. The inspectors told him he was breaching the stop-work order and told him to stop. Ponciano proceeded to take another sample. The inspectors asked Ponciano to identify himself. He refused, despite being told he was required to do so by law. The inspectors also approached one of Mr. Ponciano’s co-workers to request identification. Mr. Ponciano told the worker not to cooperate.

After a trial, Justice of the Peace Alice Napier fined Mr. Ponciano $15,000 for failing to cooperate with ministry inspectors. 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:

Mr. Ponciano was found guilty of a contravention of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) section 62, subsection 2(a) which states,

“Every person shall furnish all necessary means in the person’s power to facilitate any entry, search, inspection, investigation, examination, testing or inquiry by an inspector,

a) In the exercise of his or her powers or the performance of his or her duties under this ACT or the regulations.”

The Ministry of Labour inspector must be able to investigate fully on all incidents, accidents or any investigation that may be required.

Here we have Mr. Ponciano deliberately violating this particular section. I do not witness this type of abuse very often and I am concerned that the fines may not have been large enough to be a deterrent. Mr. Ponciano did not interfere once but multiple times. At $25,000 per contravention, Mr. Ponciano could have easily received a fine nearing the $100,000.

The safety of the Ontario workplace is protected by the MOL and the inspectors in particular. There are not enough inspectors out there to do their job so cooperation is a must. I do hope the ‘Justice of the Peace’considers her position and realize that she is an important part when dealing with workers’ safety.

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 ‘Asbestos Safety Awareness’ and ‘Designated Substances’. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.

We can also be reached at info@hrsgroup.com

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

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

Dan
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