Toronto, ON – Joel Swartz, the director of Metron Construction Corporation, a Toronto constructor, was fined $90,000 after pleading guilty to violations of the Occupational Health and Safety Act after four workers were killed and another worker was seriously injured.
On December 24, 2009, six workers were on a suspended work platform, also known as a swing stage, at a construction project on Kipling Ave. in Toronto. The swing stage collapsed and fell 13 floors, killing four of the workers and seriously injuring another worker. The only worker properly attached to fall protection was held by the lifeline and pulled to safety.
A Ministry of Labour investigation found that the deceased workers had not been properly tied off to a lifeline, and had not been properly trained in the use of fall protection. The swing stage had been overloaded and it was later determined to be defective and hazardous.
Joel Swartz pleaded guilty under the Occupational Health and Safety Act to failing, as a director, to take all reasonable care to ensure that:
■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
■Metron Construction Corporation prepared and maintained written training and instruction records for each worker
Metron Construction Corporation was convicted of criminal negligence causing death and was fined $200,000 in relation to the same incident. Metron’s conviction was pursuant to amendments to the Criminal Code of Canada relating to workplace safety which have been in force since 2004. The criminal charges were laid by the police.
The fines were imposed by Judge Bigelow of the Ontario Court of Justice. In addition to the OHSA fines, the court imposed a 25-per-cent victim fine surcharge, as required by the Provincial Offences Act. The surcharge is credited to a special provincial government fund to assist victims of crime.
Other defendants facing charges stemming from this incident are still before the court.