A project manager who oversaw a swing stage crew that fell to their death on December 24, 2009 has been found guilty on four counts of criminal negligence causing death.
According to Ontario Supreme Court Judge Ian MacDonnell, Vadim Kazenelson was aware that fall protections were not in place and still allowed the workers onto a swing stage 13 stories above the ground. The crew was repairing concrete balconies on an apartment building.
“In his failure to act, he showed wanton and reckless disregard,” said Judge MacDonnell.
Kazenelson was also on the swing stage when it split in two but managed to hold on to a balcony. Five workers fell 13 stories to the ground. Miraculously one survived though suffered significant and life-altering injuries. Kazenelson was also convicted on one count of criminal negligence causing bodily harm relating to this survivor.
Another worker had secured himself to one of the two safety lines on the swing stage and also survived.
These workers were employed by Metron Construction Corporation of Toronto. At a June, 2012 court hearing, the corporation entered a guilty plea on one count of criminal negligence causing death. This guilty plea was the first by an Ontario corporation charged under the Criminal Code Bill C-45 amendments that became law in 2004. They were fined $750,000 plus a victim surcharge.
The company that supplied the swing stage, Ottawa-based Swing N Scaff Inc., was fined $350,000 for failing to ensure the platform was in good condition. A company director was fined $50,000. Both the company and the director were also directed to pay a 25 per cent victim surcharge.
Kazenelson is scheduled to appear in court on October 16 for sentencing.
This tragic and preventable incident caused shockwaves through the province, prompting a year-long review of Ontario’s health and safety system. This review led to various recommendations to amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act
(OHSA) and its regulations. Some are still pending while others, including mandatory working at heights training
have already been implemented.
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