Safe Work Environment for Employees

Failing to provide a safe work environment for your employees can not only have tragic results, with costly fines attached, it can also lead to criminal charges.

A Metron Construction project manager will now face a criminal trial after four workers under his supervision fell 13 storeys to their deaths on Christmas Eve, 2009, when the swing-stage they were working on broke. A Fifth worker sustained serious leg and spinal injuries.

Metron, a Toronto constructor, was fined $200,000 in July of last year, and convicted of criminal negligence causing death. The conviction was the first of its kind in Ontario, under the Criminal Code. Metron Construction Project Manager Vadim Kazenelson will now face a criminal trial for the deaths and other injured worker.

“We are delighted that the judge found sufficient evidence to send this case to criminal trial,” Sid Ryan, president of the Ontario Federation of Labour, was quoted as saying after an Ontario court decided to go to criminal trial.

“Four workers are dead due to workplace negligence … Mr. Kazenelson had direct responsibility over these workers and he should be held to account for Metron’s shameful failure to follow safety protocols.”

Metron Director Joel Swartz was also charged a $90,000 fine, plus a 25% victim surcharge. He pled guilty to failing to take all reasonable care regarding the workers’ use of swing-stages. A total of 61 charges were laid by the Ministry of Labour under the Occupationa Health and Safety Act (OHSA): 30 against Metron, 15 against Metron’s president, and eight against a Metron supervisor, Benny Saigh. The company that provided the faulty swing-stage, Swing N’ Scaff Inc., was also charged with four OHSA offences. Swing N’ Scaff’s director was charged with an additional three OHSA offences.

Because of the loss of the four men, Ontario’s occupational health and safety system underwent a thorough review. As a result, several amendments were made to the OHSA. These changes are what enabled the criminal charge to be laid.

Within Reach Ltd. is pleased that Ontario’s Ministry of Labour has taken steps to improve the OHSA. Helping companies improve their workplace safety practices in order to prevent accidents and injury is what we do. We will create, or revise, safety programs so that businesses can meet safety requirements and ensure healthy work environments.

As it says on Ontario Ministry of Labour’s website, “All workers have the right to return home each day safe and sound. Preventing work-related illness and injury is the most important job at any workplace.”

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