Some cases illustrate very well the principle that "the
more dangerous your operation, the more careful you must
be". This case, involving a joint prosecution by the
Ministry of Labour and Ministry of Environment, is one of them.
Sunrise Propane Energy Group Inc. and its directors have been
fined a total of $5.3 million under both the Occupational
Health and Safety Act and the Environmental Protection
Act, following high-profile explosions at a propane-filling
plant in Toronto more than seven years ago.
A young worker with short service was killed by the
explosions. Propane was accidentally ignited during a
prohibited truck-to-truck transfer. The explosions also
discharged contaminants from fuel tanks, resulting in an evacuation
in the area. Some area residents suffered injuries and burns and
local businesses lost business as they were forced to close.
Sunrise Propane was fined $280,000 plus a victim fine surcharge
of $70,000 for failing to train and supervise workers on safe work
practices and failing to take every reasonable precaution to
protect workers, contrary to the Occupational Health and Safety
Act. OHSA charges are prosecuted by the Ministry of
previous post, we noted that the court, in its 2013 decision convicting the company and
directors in 2013, held that the young worker had not been properly
supervised. The employer did not take the simple step of
giving the employee a phone number to call if he had any
questions. Nor did any supervisors call him to check in on
him. The employee should not have been put in charge of the
propane yard on the night in question, given his lack of
Referring to the dangerous nature of this workplace, the court
had stated in its 2013 decision:
"I am sure that the defendants were well meaning, to a
degree, but in an inherently dangerous business such as this there
must be a high degree of attention to detail and processes in place
that address day-to-day issues, particularly instructing, training
and supervision for people handling this very dangerous fuel.
People make mistakes and processes assist in mitigating any damage
that arises when employees make those mistakes."
Sunrise Propane was also fined $2,820,000 plus a victim fine
surcharge of $705,000 for failing to comply with a cleanup order
from the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change after the
explosions, and for discharging a contaminant that caused adverse
effects. Two company directors were fined $100,000 each plus
a victim fine surcharge of $25,000 each for not complying with an
order. A related company was fined $2 million plus a victim
fine surcharge of $500,000 for the discharge of the contaminant
that caused adverse effects. EPA charges are prosecuted by
the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change.
The press release from the Ministry of Labour may be found here, and the press release from the Ministry
of the Environment and Climate Change may be found here.
Dentons is the world's first polycentric global law firm. A
top 20 firm on the Acritas 2015 Global Elite Brand Index, the Firm
is committed to challenging the status quo in delivering consistent
and uncompromising quality and value in new and inventive ways.
Driven to provide clients a competitive edge, and connected to the
communities where its clients want to do business, Dentons knows
that understanding local cultures is crucial to successfully
completing a deal, resolving a dispute or solving a business
challenge. Now the world's largest law firm, Dentons'
global team builds agile, tailored solutions to meet the local,
national and global needs of private and public clients of any size
in more than 125 locations serving 50-plus countries.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances. Specific Questions relating to
this article should be addressed directly to the author.
To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
Unfortunately, reasonable accommodation for employees in the workplace continues to be the source of significant litigation and even today we continue to see outrageous examples of employers behaving badly.
We are now beginning to see reported cases involving charges and subsequent fines laid against employers for failing to provide information, instruction and supervision to protect a worker from workplace violence.
On October 13, 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada denied leave to appeal an Ontario Court of Appeal decision which ordered an employer to pay a former employee 37 months of salary and benefits following termination.
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).