This decision of the Territorial Court of Yukon resulted in a
$150,000 fine being issued to the operator of a mine pursuant to
the Yukon Occupational Health and Safety Act, R.S.Y. 2002,
c. 159 (Act) following the death of an employee. The same fine,
which was the maximum penalty available under the legislation, was
also imposed on the mine owner pursuant to similar charges.
Procon Mining and Tunnelling Ltd. (Procon) operated Wolverine
Mine, an underground polymetal mine owned by Yukon Zinc Corp.
(Yukon Zinc). In April 2010, William Fisher, a Procon employee, was
killed when approximately 70 tonnes of rock fell from a wall. The
rock fall was the fourth fall in six months and Mr. Fisher was the
second person killed at the mine in less than a year.
Investigations conducted after the incident revealed that there was
essentially no ground support plan in place, despite the fact that
a 2007 feasibility study commissioned by Yukon Zinc recommended
that such a plan be developed due to the mine's particular
susceptibility to ground failures. A ground control plan was also
required by s. 15.06 of the Occupational Health and Safety
Regulations, O.I.C. 2006/178.
In a related case, Yukon Zinc was charged under the Act for
failing to ensure that the health and safety of workers was
protected. Yukon Zinc entered a guilty plea and was fined $150,000,
based on an agreed statement of facts and a joint submission on
Procon was also charged under the Act and regulations, and
entered a guilty plea to the charge of failing to ensure, as far as
was reasonably practicable, that the workplace under its control
was safe and without risk to the health of the employees. While the
Director sought another fine of $150,000, Procon contended that
$100,000 would be sufficient, arguing that it was primarily the
mine owner's responsibility to provide a ground support plan
and to supervise its design and placement. Procon also relied on
the fact that it alerted Yukon to the lack of a ground support plan
two months before the fatal rock fall.
Procon's defence was rejected by the Judge, who found that
Procon chose to put its employees in harm's way despite its
knowledge that there was no oversight of ground support. The fact
that Procon alerted Yukon Zinc to the lack of a ground support plan
two months before Mr. Fisher's death did not change the fact
that it knew of the shortcomings and still sent workers into the
mine. Moreover, Procon had been at the mine for nearly a year
before bringing the shortcomings to the owner's attention.
The maximum find was imposed on Procon, together with a victim
surcharge of 15%.
Canada is a constitutional monarchy, a parliamentary democracy and a federation comprised of ten provinces and three territories. Canada's judiciary is independent of the legislative and executive branches of Government.
The Government of Alberta recently announced a number of policy changes that will impact the Alberta Electricity Market, composed of its generators, transmitters, distributors, retailers, electricity consumers and wholesale electricity market.
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