Metron Construction Corporation is the first in Ontario to be
convicted under the Criminal
Code, after entering a guilty plea to the charge of criminal
negligence causing death. Metron was fined $200,000.00, and
its president was also fined $90,000.00 after entering a guilty
plea to four charges under the Occupational Health and Safety
The criminal and OHSA charges were the result of an accident on
December 24, 2009 which occurred while Metron's workers were
repairing concrete balconies on a high rise building. After
climbing onto a swing stage to travel back to the ground, the swing
stage collapsed, resulting in five workers falling fourteen storeys
to the ground. Four workers were killed and one was seriously
injured. A sixth worker, who was properly harnessed and attached to
a safety line, was not injured.
The resulting Ministry of Labour investigation revealed that
five of the six workers were not properly harnessed and attached to
safety lines, and had not been properly trained in the use of fall
protection. Further, the swing stage was not in proper
condition and was loaded in excess of its maximum weight
During the hearing it was also revealed that the site
supervisor, who was among the deceased workers, knew or ought to
have known that the swing stage was unsafe and had nonetheless
allowed the six workers to board the swing stage. Three of
the workers (including the site supervisor) had marijuana in their
systems at a level consistent with recent ingestion.
Prior to the accident Metron had complied with all Ministry of
Labour orders and Metron had over twenty years of experience in the
Metron's president entered a guilty plea to four charges
under the OHSA, each stemming from his breach as a director to take
all reasonable care to ensure the health and safety of Metron's
workers. The court imposed a fine of $90,000.00 and a victim
surcharge of $22,500.00.
With respect to the criminal negligence charge, Metron submitted
that a $100,000.00 fine was appropriate, while the Crown sought a
fine of $1 million. The court ultimately evaluated the facts
in light of the sentencing factors applicable to corporations and
held that a fine of $200,000.00, plus a victim surcharge of
$30,000.00 was reasonable in the circumstances. As the total
of the fines ($342,500.00) amounted to three times Metron's net
earnings in the year prior to the accident, the court determined
that the sentence sent a clear message about the importance health
and safety compliance, while allowing Metron's business to stay
The Ministry of the Attorney General has since filed an
application for leave to appeal the sentence with the Court of
Appeal. The Ministry has sought leave to argue, among other
things, that the fine imposed on Metron was manifestly unfit, and
should be increased to reflect what it perceives to be a high level
of culpability. We will provide updates as this matter
continues to evolve.
The Metron case is a clear example of the importance of adhering
to health and safety requirements, and the consequences for
organizations that fail to comply with their safety
obligations. Further, we note that in this case the actions
of a supervisor were sufficient to attract criminal
liability. While the role of a supervisor on a construction
site may be of increased significance when compared to a supervisor
in other operations, it is indicative of the fact that in this area
one does not necessarily need to be the "directing mind"
of the corporation to subject it to potential criminal
liability. This reaffirms the need to appoint competent
supervisors, train them appropriately, and ensure that they are
supervised to the extent possible. For more information
please see R. v. Metron Construction
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