Earlier this year we posted a
blog surveying the trend in 2012 for Courts to levy increased
fines in non-fatal accident cases. Recently in R v. Canadian
Consolidated Salvage Ltd. (Clearway Recycling), 2013 ABPC 120, this
trend continues with the Alberta Court levying a fine of $100,000
(not including the mandatory victim fine surcharge) against
Canadian Consolidated Salvage Ltd. (Clearway Recycling)
("Canadian Consolidated") in a case involving a
worker's fall from a second story mezzanine that left the
worker with serious (but non-fatal) injuries.
At trial, the Court held that it was "abundantly
clear" that Canadian Consolidated had not complied with its
obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (the
"Act") in that it had no safety plans, safety
documentation, hazard assessment, emergency response plan or fall
protection procedures in place for any of its work sites. The Court
further commented that the attitude displayed throughout trial by
the principals of Canadian Consolidated evidenced a complete
disregard for the health and safety of its workforce. In the
result, Canadian Consolidated was convicted of five offences under
In its decision on sentencing, the Court highlighted that a
principled approach must be used in constructing an appropriate
penalty and considered the following factors: Nature of the Victim,
Impact on the Victim, Degree of Negligence, Compliance with the
Regulatory Regime, Remorse, Prior Record, Industry Context or
Standards, Economic Impact, and Reasonable Foreseeability.
In applying these factors, the Court held that a significant
fine was warranted in this case considering the lack of any effort
made by the organization to meet its obligations under the Act, the
fact that the principals of Canadian Consolidated "never
appeared to show any interest" in respect of safety compliance
and that this ultimately led to a very serious injury to one of its
workers. That the corporate officers did not display any remorse
was also cited as a key factor in justifying the hefty penalty in
Of note, the Court considered the effect a significant fine
would have on the financial status of the organization and
confirmed that higher fines will be justified where the degree of
negligence is high or the result of the breach is serious in order
to ensure that the fine has a deterrent effect on the organization
as well as on the corporate community as a whole. It further
confirmed that while evidence of the financial status of the
company will be relevant in determining the appropriate sentence,
ability to pay should not reduce a sentence that is proportionate
to the offence. As such, the Court held that $100,000 was
appropriate and made no concessions for Canadian Consolidated's
This case is indicative of the current trend for increased
fines, regardless of whether the accident results in death,
particularly where the organization blatantly disregards its health
and safety obligations under the Act and the principals of the
organization are not, in the Court's view, sufficiently
repentant. It not only underscores the importance of ensuring
compliance with the Act but also confirms that the Court will be
interested in the attitude of the organization's corporate
officers towards the health and safety of its workforce when
imposing a sentence.
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