The case of R. v. Metron has attracted the widespread
attention of Canadian employers and employees alike. As we have
previously described, this case relates to a tragic accident
that occurred on December 24, 2009, when four workers fell 14
floors after a swing stage they were using to return to the ground
collapsed. There were six workers on the swing stage, despite the
fact that there were only two life lines available.
Ultimately, Metron was fined $750,000.00 under Ontario
occupational health and safety legislation, one of the highest ever
OHS fines in Canada at the time. However, this fine did not end the
Criminal charges were brought against Vadim Kazenelson, a
project manager for Metron. At the time of the incident Kazenelson
was the supervisor on site responsible for ensuring that the
workers were following proper safety procedures. Kazenelson not
only allowed the deceased workers to use the swing stage without
proper fall protection, he joined them in doing so. He was able to
escape injury by clinging to a nearby balcony railing.
Subsequent testing revealed that Kazenelson, along with some of
the deceased workers, had recently used marijuana.
In June 2015, Kazenelson was found guilty of four counts of
criminal negligence causing death and one count of criminal
negligence causing bodily injury. Early in January 2016, he was
sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison. According to media reports,
Kazenelson intends to appeal this sentence and is seeking bail
pending the appeal. However, it appears that, regardless of any
appeal, he will spend some time in jail.
This is a landmark decision. It is the first time in Canada that
a supervisor has been sentenced to jail since that punishment
became a possibility in 2004, when Bill C–45 was passed
introducing offences into the Criminal Code of Canada
relating to failure to take reasonable care for the safety of
During the sentencing hearing, the Court noted that Kazenelson
had no prior record, appeared to be sincerely remorseful and, in
fact, had a reputation for terminating workers who did not follow
safety rules. However, the sentence was intended to convey a strong
message in order to deter others from committing similar
While it remains to be seen if the sentence will be reduced (or
increased) on appeal, we can be assured that prosecutors across the
country will look to this case to support imposing further jail
sentences in appropriate circumstances. Obviously employers,
supervisors, and others who are responsible for employee safety
need to take note and beware.
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.
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