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guilty plea to criminal charge in scaffolding deaths


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Metron Construction pleads guilty

to criminal charge in scaffolding deaths

 

 

Toronto-based, Metron Construction has pleaded guilty to one count of criminal negligence causing death in connection with a 2009 scaffolding incident that killed four workers and seriously injured another.

 

 

 

The guilty plea is the first by an Ontario corporation charged under Criminal Code Bill C-45 amendments that became law in 2004.

 

 

 

Deadly incident

 

On December 24, 2009, six migrant workers were working on a swing-stage at a Toronto high-rise building when the scaffolding broke in half, plunging the men 13 stories to the ground.

 

 

 

The incident caused shockwaves through the province and prompted a year-long review of Ontario’s health and safety system and subsequent amendments to the Occupational Health & Safety Act (OHSA).

 

 

 

Criminal charges

 

Three Metron Construction officials were arrested in October 2010. The corporation, it’s President and a supervisor were each charged with four counts of criminal negligence causing death and one count of criminal negligence causing bodily harm.

 

 

 

At a June 15, 2012 court hearing, Metron Construction entered a guilty plea on one count of criminal negligence causing death. There remains one outstanding criminal negligence charge against the alleged supervisor, Mr. Kazenelson.

 

 

 

The Criminal Code sets no limit on fines to corporations. The Crown is seeking a $1 million fine.

 

 

 

Individuals found guilty of criminal negligence causing death can be sentenced to life in prison.

 

 

 

MOL charges

 

The Ministry of Labour also laid a total of 61 charges against Metron and its officers as well as the company that supplied the swing-stage.

 

 

 

Metron Construction President, Joel Swartz, P. Eng. as a company director, has pleaded guilty to four charges under the OHSA and its regulations. These charges were:

 

 

 

· Two counts under S.26(2) of the Construction Regulations failing to ensure workers using a fall protection system were adequately trained; failing to provide proper records of training;

 

· S. 93 of Construction Regulations failing to ensure suspended scaffolding was maintained and did not endanger a worker

 

· S.134 of the Construction Regulations for failing to ensure a suspended platform complied with all aspects of the Regulation.

 

 

 

Metron President has not been sentenced, but a joint submission by Crown and Defence attorneys are suggesting a $90,000 penalty. Hearings are ongoing.

 

 

 

This past May 9th marked the twentieth anniversary of the Westray Mine disaster where 26 miners lost their lives in a Nova Scotia mine explosion. A public inquiry into the disaster recommended amending the Criminal Code to allow for charges against corporations, their officers and those who direct work when workers are killed on the job.

 

 

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Don't mean to make light of this as it's a serious situation, but it brings to mind something that happened late last year in T.O. on a film shoot.

 

A friend of mine works in the film industry and was invloved in the making of a grade b zombie flick.

 

A bunch of the zombies were up on a scaffold waiting for their cue, when it suddenly collapsed and fell 10' to the ground.

 

Nothing life threatening, but there was a bunch of minor injuries, a lot of blood, and major pandemonium.

 

As my buddy said "It was madness, we couldn't tell who was hurt and who wasn't....they were zombies!!!"

 

 

For some reason I found that kind of funny. :D

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This is really tragic and should never have happened. I have done some work off a swing stage and the law is the worker must be secured by a separate lifeline. This way if a failure occurs the worker only falls the length of his harness safety lanyard. I wonder if the company was cheaping out and not supplying all the proper equipment or telling these workers of their rights.

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Most workers I know hate the harnesses. They wear them, but aren't hooked onto anything most of the time. I've never liked working on any scaffold....unless I put it up myself.

 

S.

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For anyone who doesn't know the background of this incident, here is a link to the Toronto Star article. I have since discovered that scaffolding problems (lack of training, inspections and enforcement etc.) are prevalent in industry. This deserves more scrutiny and better public awareness.

 

http://www.thestar.com/news/crime/article/847996--charges-laid-in-scaffolding-accident-that-killed-4-workers

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Migrant workers? Lots of people out of work and they need migrants?...Oh yea, Canadians don't want to work under dangerous conditions for minimum wage.....plus they have the nerve to question safety and refuse unsafe work which causes the bosses to lose money and bonuses.....how can you buy the wife a new Mercedes every year when pesky workers take your money???

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Most workers I know hate the harnesses. They wear them, but aren't hooked onto anything most of the time. I've never liked working on any scaffold....unless I put it up myself.

 

S.

 

i've been working on swing stages for 4 years and have worked beside many people. i've only met one guy that actually refused to tie off and he never got to leave the ground. 99% of the guys i've seen and worked with always tie off when they should. i could care less if you want to die, but i don't want to watch you fall...

 

i've setup the rigging and lines on many buildings and many older buildings do not have roof anchors where you attach safety lines and rigging tie backs. they're expensive and can take a while to be installed, so i'm wondering if the building didn't have tiebacks and the contractor didn't want to wait and/or a shady building owner looked the other way.

 

it was probably overloading and/or damaged equipment that caused the stage to fail in the first place, but does anyone know the root cause?

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I think it was overloaded if memory serves. I usually ask a question or two of guys that wear a harness but dont tie off. A) are you married? B ) do you have kids? C) how are they going to feel when i tell them you died because you were an idiot?

 

At this point they usually answer with something like "Im not going to fall" or "nothings going to happen". My answer to that is "The last guy didnt think so either". They tie off.

 

Its imperative that we look after one another. Because if we dont, noone will.

Edited by Jigger
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I think it was overloaded if memory serves. I usually ask a question or two of guys that wear a harness but dont tie off. A) are you married? B ) do you have kids? C) how are they going to feel when i tell them you died because you were an idiot?

 

At this point they usually answer with something like "Im not going to fall" or "nothings going to happen". My answer to that is "The last guy didnt think so either". They tie off.

 

Its imperative that we look after one another. Because if we dont, noone will.

 

Well said!!,using a scissor lift,forklift cage,I always tie off to a ceiling support whether running pipe or changing lights.I think I would really," crap" my pants if something happened and hanging 25-30' from the ground. But I'd live another day.

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If these guys were from out of the country they may not know how to properly tie off in the first place and their employer was more interested in profit than safety. He just wanted the job done as fast as possible...Our right to a safe workplace is diminishing in the name of profits. The guys who refuse unsafe work where I am tend to get fired for"other reasons" eventually...

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