On January 11, 2016, Justice Ian MacDonnell sentenced a Project
Manager of Metron Construction to 3.5 years in prison as a result
of his conviction on four counts of criminal negligence causing
death and one count of criminal negligence causing bodily harm. The
charges arose from a tragic accident on December 24, 2009, in which
a high-rise swing stage collapsed causing the deaths of four
workers and injury to a fifth.
This case is one of only a handful of convictions (and the first
in Ontario) under amendments made to the Criminal Code in
2004 that resulted from the Westray Mine disaster in Nova Scotia in
1992. The 2004 amendments created new workplace health and safety
obligations and held that organizations, their representatives, and
those who direct the work of others can be criminally liable for
negligence and other offences including health and safety
Justice MacDonnell held that the Project Manager was criminally
negligent since he had become aware that there were only two life
lines available for the six workers on the swing stage, yet failed
to take steps to rectify the situation. In failing to act, the
Project Manager demonstrated wanton and reckless disregard for the
safety of the workers and these omissions constituted criminal
Employers and their representatives should take note of this
decision and the fact that they may be held criminally liable for
serious health and safety violations that result in bodily harm.
Employers should ensure that appropriate workplace health and
safety policies and processes are in place, and that all health and
safety issues are rectified whenever they arise.
Copies of the conviction and sentencing decisions are here and here, respectively.
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