March 9, 2005
Contractor fined for violations
A construction contractor who had been directing work outside a house in the township of Kent was recently fined $50,000 for violations of the Occupational Health and Safety Act that resulted in the death of a worker.
The fine was imposed by Justice William Gorewich of the Ontario Court of Justice in Newmarket, Ont.
In addition, 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.
In a statement, the Ministry of Labour said the defendant last April was in the process of installing weeping tiles in a trench around the foundation of the house, down to the footing of the basement, to allow for water drainage to stop leakage into the basement.
The work required a worker to enter the trench, the ministry said. The worker doing the excavation was instructed by the defendant “where, how deep and how wide” to make the trench.
“Despite the specific directions of the house owner to slope the trench, the defendant gave no such instructions and the trench was not shored or sloped.”
The ministry said on the date in question, the defendant had been directly supervising two workers in the trench before departing to get materials for the job.
“Shortly after the defendant departed, the soil wall of the trench collapsed, burying a worker,” the ministry said. “A co-worker attempted to dig the worker out, but was unsuccessful.
“Emergency personnel recovered the body of the worker, who was already deceased.”
The ministry said the defendant pleaded guilty, as an employer, to failing to ensure that:
— A worker did not enter an excavation that was not properly shored or sloped contrary to section 224 of the construction regulation;
— A worker was wearing protective headgear as required by section 22 of the construction regulation;
— A worker was wearing protective footwear as required by section 23 of the construction regulation.
These violations constituted offences under section 25 (1) (c) of the Act.
— DCN staff
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