In a landmark decision released in January 2016, the
Ontario Court has sentenced a project manager to 3.5 years in
prison in relation to a scaffold collapse that many will remember
having occurred in Toronto on Christmas Eve in 2009. Vadim
Kazenelson, an employee and project manager with Metron
Construction, was convicted of four counts of criminal negligence
causing death and one count of criminal negligence causing bodily
Under Kazenelson's supervision, six workers were allowed to
board and work on a swing stage equipped with only two lifelines.
By law, every worker on such a stage must be secured to their own
lifeline. Only one of the workers were attached to a lifeline when
the swing stage failed and collapsed, resulting in a fall of more
than 100 feet. Miraculously, one of the five workers who fell
survived the fall, but the four others died. The one worker secured
to the lifeline survived unharmed and was pulled in to saftey.
The charges against Kazanelson were laid under that Criminal
Code of Canada (amended by Bill C-45 in 2004 to impose serious
penalties in cases of occupational health and safety violations
causing bodily harm or death).
In finding Kazanelson guilty of criminal negligence causing
death or serious bodily harm, the Court found that that not only
was he aware that the six workers had boarded and were working on
the staging with no lifelines, but that he did nothing "in
circumstances where he had no information with respect to the
capacity of the stage to safely bear the weight to which it was
The decision is extremely significant to employers and
supervisors because it illustrates the Court's readiness to
impose incarceration as a penalty against individuals in health and
safety matters, in addition to the traditional fines or penalties
imposed against corporate defendants.
The case also serves to remind employers of the diminishing
tolerance for health and safety negligence and the importance of
vigilance in safety training, education and enforcement of rules
for management and workers alike.
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