July 13, 2012
Metron convicted of criminal negligence causing death in 2009 swing-stage tragedy
Metron Construction Corporation and director Joel Swartz have both been fined in relation to the Christmas Eve 2009 swing-stage collapse that killed four construction workers and badly injured another.
Metron supervisor Fayzullo Fazilov, along with Vladimir Korostin, Aleksey Blumberg and Alexander Bondorev, died after they fell 13 storeys when their swing-stage broke apart on Dec. 24, 2009.
They were working on a highrise apartment building at 2757 Kipling Avenue in Toronto.
A fifth worker, welder Dilshod Marupov, survived the fall, but suffered severe leg and spinal injuries.
An investigation by the Ministry of Labour (MOL) 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.
Metron, a Toronto constructor, was convicted of criminal negligence causing death, the first conviction of its kind in Ontario under the Criminal Code, and was fined $200,000.
Criminal charges against Swartz were dropped. 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; and
•Metron Construction Corporation prepared and maintained written training and instruction records for each worker.
Swartz and Metron were convicted under: Ontario Regulation 213/91, Section 26.2(1); Ontario Regulation 213/91, Section 26.2(3); Ontario Regulation 213/91, Section 93(2)(a); and Ontario Regulation 213/91, Section 134(3).
The company had faced a fine of up to $1 million.
Ontario Justice Robert Bigelow said Friday the fine should send a message to companies that the court does not take workplace safety lightly.
The company will have to pay $100,000 within 30 days and the remainder within 12 months.
The company and Swartz were also ordered to pay a victim surcharge totalling $52,500 — bringing the total fines to $342,500.
“Health and safety legislation exists to protect workers from serious injury or death in the workplace and the overriding principle to be considered by the court is that of deterrence and any fine imposed must be substantial enough to warn others that the offence will not be tolerated,” said Bigelow.
Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) president Sid Ryan is calling on the Crown to appeal the fine.
“Today’s ruling is disgraceful. It says that a worker’s life is worth no more than $50,000 and many bad bosses across the province will simply chalk it up as the cost of doing business,” he said in a release. Ryan said that last year 436 Ontarians died from workplace accidents or occupational diseases and over 240,000 injury claims were filed.
Other defendants facing charges stemming from this incident are still before the court.
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