Largest Fine, Federation of Labour Claims Not Enough
While it was the largest criminal fine for corporate negligence causing death in Canadian history ever handed out, Ontario’s Federation of Labour claims it was not enough, according to the Canadian OH&S News.
Metron Responsible for 4 Workers Deaths
Metron Construction Ltd., the company found responsible for the deaths of four workers and the critical injury of another when a swing stage collapsed in Toronto in 2009, was fined $200,000 plus an added $30,000 victim fine surcharge — double the previous largest fine and the initial corporate guilty plea in Ontario since Criminal Code revisions were made in 2004. All 30 Occupational Health and Safety Act charges against Metron were removed as part of the guilty plea.
Company owner Joel Swartz was also fined $90,000 — the largest cumulative fine to an individual — after pleading guilty to four charges at $22,500 each under OSHA. The previous largest fine against an individual was $70,000. Twelve OSHA charges against Swartz were removed as part of the plea deal.
First Corporation to Plead Guilty Since Bill C-45 Unveiled
Metron is the first corporation to plead guilty in Ontario under criminal charges since Bill C-45 was unveiled in 2004. It included specific workplace health and safety duties along with broadening the standards for a criminal negligence charge against a company. The bill, also known as the Westray Bill, was enacted after Nova Scotia’s Westray Mine disaster in 1992 that killed 26 miners.
Swartz pleaded guilty to failing to take all reasonable care to ensure workers did not use a defective or hazardous swing stage, the swing stage was not loaded in excess of the weight it was meant to bear, workers were adequately trained in the use of fall protection by a competent person and that Metron prepared and kept written training and instruction records for each worker.
Court documents point out that Swartz had no previous record of OH&S violations in more than 20 years in the construction industry.
Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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