A construction company that tried to blame a worker's fall
on his untied boots, has been found guilty of all 5 charges against
it under Saskatchewan's The Occupational Health and Safety
The 18-year-old worker, who had been on the job for 6 or 7
hours, fell at least 20 feet and broke his wrist and 2
vertebra. He had been working on roof trusses that were 20 to
25 feet off the ground. He had not received any training and there
was no fall protection equipment provided.
The contruction company argued that the worker was not its
employee but rather was an independent contractor. The court
rejected that argument, finding that the worker was under the
direction of the owner's son; had no independent control of his
employment; his wages were set by the company's owner; no
one ever suggested to him that he was a self-employed contractor;
and he considered himself to be an employee.
The contruction company failed to report the accident to
Saskatchewan Occupational Health and Safety. A representative of
Saskatchewan Occupational Health and Safety testified that they had
received notice from Worker's Compensation, not the
company. As such, the court convicted the company of failing
to report to Saskatchewan Occupational Health and Safety where a
worker is required to be admitted to a hospital as an inpatient for
a period of 72 hours.
The court also convicted the employer of failing to train; not
providing fall protection equipment; failing to provide competent
supervision (which was clear because the company violated basic
requirements under the OHSA); and failing to ensure that the
worker wore approved industrial protective headgear.
The owner of the company argued that the injured worker
caused the accident as his boots were not tied. The
court noted that that was irrelevant as the employer had a duty to
supervise and ensure proper safety procedures on the work site were
followed. It is generally not prudent to attempt to blame the
injured worker for a relatively minor transgression when the
company committed serious safety violations.
As such, the court found the company guilty on
all 5 charges under The Occupational Health and
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