Here’s an update from Bob Gardiner on Toronto’s most notorious workplace catastrophe in recent history.
Four migrant workers died and another suffered a critical injury when a swing stage scaffold on the 13th floor of a Kipling Avenue apartment building they were on while repairing a balcony collapsed on Christmas Eve, 2009. The swing stage broke into two pieces when a seventh worker attempted to step onto it. Thirty Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) charges were laid against Metron Construction Corporation, 16 charges against a senior manager and eight charges against a supervisor. Swing “N” Scaff Inc., which supplied the work platform faces four charges and its director faces three charges, all under the OHSA.
In addition, Metron Construction Corporation and three company officials have each been charged with criminal negligence causing bodily harm and four counts of criminal negligence causing death, pursuant to s. 217.1 (the Bill C-45 amendments to the Criminal Code).
Eight OHSA orders (including some dealing with swing stages) had been issued to Metron Construction at that job site in the prior two months.
None of the five cases against corporations and individuals subject to such criminal charges have proceeded to trial. Some critics maintain that the excessive focus on criminal blame does not promote proactive strategies to prevent workplace injuries.
By now, every condominium director and manager must be aware of his or her personal liability to take every reasonable measure in the circumstances to protect the health and safety of workers upon a worksite. Condos should take care to disclose any hazardous products or circumstances on site and to negotiate appropriate OHSA clauses in construction contracts. An Occupational Health and Safety Policy is mandatory, as is a Workplace Violence and Harassment Policy, Risk Assessment and Program.