Toronto-based, Metron Construction has pleaded guilty to one count of criminal negligence causing death in connection with a 2009 scaffolding incident that killed four workers and seriously injured another.
The guilty plea is the first by an Ontario corporation charged under Criminal Code Bill C-45 amendments that became law in 2004.
On December 24, 2009, six migrant workers were working on a swing-stage at a Toronto high-rise building when the scaffolding broke in half, plunging the men 13 stories to the ground.
The incident caused shockwaves through the province and prompted a year-long review of Ontario’s health and safety system and subsequent amendments to the Occupational Health & Safety Act (OHSA).
Three Metron Construction officials were arrested in October 2010. The corporation, it’s President and a supervisor were each charged with four counts of criminal negligence causing death and one count of criminal negligence causing bodily harm.
At a June 15, 2012 court hearing, Metron Construction entered a guilty plea on one count of criminal negligence causing death. There remains one outstanding criminal negligence charge against the alleged supervisor, Mr. Kazenelson.
The Criminal Code sets no limit on fines to corporations. The Crown is seeking a $1 million fine.
Individuals found guilty of criminal negligence causing death can be sentenced to life in prison.
The Ministry of Labour also laid a total of 61 charges against Metron and its officers as well as the company that supplied the swing-stage.
Metron Construction President, Joel Swartz, P. Eng. as a company director, has pleaded guilty to four charges under the OHSA and its regulations. These charges were:
- Two counts under S.26(2) of the Construction Regulations failing to ensure workers using a fall protection system were adequately trained; failing to provide proper records of training;
- S. 93 of Construction Regulations failing to ensure suspended scaffolding was maintained and did not endanger a worker;
- S.134 of the Construction Regulations for failing to ensure a suspended platform complied with all aspects of the Regulation.
Metron President has not been sentenced, but a joint submission by Crown and Defence attorneys are suggesting a $90,000 penalty. Hearings are ongoing.
This past May 9th marked the twentieth anniversary of the Westray Mine disaster where 26 miners lost their lives in a Nova Scotia mine explosion. A public inquiry into the disaster recommended amending the Criminal Code to allow for charges against corporations, their officers and those who direct work when workers are killed on the job. The labour-led lobby, which helped secure the Criminal Code changes, continue calls for tougher application of the law when workers are killed on the job.
Want to learn more about training and information services offered by the WHSC, including a range of training programs covering fall protection, supervisor health and safety and Bill C-45? Call 1-888-869-7950 or contact a WHSC near you and ask to speak to a training service representative.