In a landmark decision released in January 2016, the Ontario
Court 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, 2009.
The project manager with Metron Construction was convicted of
four counts of criminal negligence causing death and one count of
criminal negligence causing bodily harm.
Under his 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
Only one of the workers was attached to a lifeline when the
swing stage failed and collapsed, resulting in a fall of more than
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 safety.
The charges against the project manager were laid under the
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 him guilty of criminal negligence causing death or
serious bodily harm, the Court found 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 being
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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