On January 11, 2016, the Ontario Superior Court sentenced a
project manager to 3 ½ years in prison after he was
convicted of criminal negligence following the death of four
workers in 2009.1
On December 24, 2009, Metron Construction Incorporated was
carrying out repairs to the balconies on a multi-storey building. A
swing stage was used to access the balconies. When it was time to
leave the site, six workers boarded the swing stage from the
13th floor, and it collapsed several seconds later. Four
workers died and a fifth was seriously injured.
The authorities charged both Metron Construction Incorporated
and the project manager, Vadim Kazenelson, with criminal
In July 2012, Metron Construction Incorporated pleaded guilty to
one count of criminal negligence causing death. The business was
originally ordered to pay a fine of $200,000, which was increased
to $750,000 by the Ontario Court of Appeal.
Fines totaling $90,000 were also imposed under the
Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act.
On June 26, 2015, the project manager was found guilty of
four counts of criminal negligence causing death and one count of
criminal negligence causing bodily harm.2
MacDonnell J. of the Ontario Superior Court found that
Mr. Kazenelson was a person who has the authority to direct
how another person does work within the meaning of
section 217.1 of the Criminal Code and that, as a
result, he had a duty to take reasonable steps to prevent bodily
harm to that person, even if there was someone supervising the
workers on site.
The Court also concluded that he showed wanton or reckless
disregard for the lives or safety of the workers:
He knew that none of the workers present was wearing fall
He allowed the workers to board the swing stage, even though he
knew they were not protected in the event of a fall.
The judge acknowledged that a breach of an OHS regulation does
not automatically constitute a breach of section 217.1 of the
Criminal Code; it can, however, assist in identifying the
steps a person subject to section 217.1 of the
Criminal Code must take to prevent workplace
In its sentencing decision, the Court remarked that a fairly
lengthy prison term was necessary in order to remind those in
authority in potentially dangerous workplaces of their duty to take
all reasonable steps to ensure worker safety.
It will be very interesting to see how this file develops,
because the conviction has been appealed.
This matter serves as a reminder of how important it is for
managers and supervisors to pay particular attention to
occupational health and safety rules, and that the consequences can
be very significant if such rules are breached.
1 See 2016 ONSC 25.
2 See 2015 ONSC 3639.
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