OHSA: Supervisor charged; Duty to report clarified; WHMIS fine for Brewers Retail

Three significant health and safety cases made their ways through Ontario courts in the first quarter of 2013.

A criminal negligence charge has been laid against the Project Supervisor of Metron Construction. Five workers fell 13 storeys to their deaths when a suspended scaffold collapsed on Christmas Eve, 2009. At a preliminary inquiry, the judge found a project supervisor’s consent, tacit or otherwise, to workers using a “swing stage” with their equipment, without the protection of lifelines, constituted a “marked and substantial departure from reasonable prudence.”

The case citation is: R. v. Kazenelson, 2013 CarswellOnt 1765 (Ontario Court of Justice)

Employer’s duty to report fatal and critical injuries is narrowed in a February 2013 case, Blue Mountain Resorts v. Ontario (Labour).

The Ontario Court of Appeal reversed a Divisional Court ruling that had found that an employer has a duty under subsection 51(1) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) to report all fatal and critical injuries at a workplace, including incidents involving members of the public. A guest drowned in an unsupervised swimming pool located on resort property. The Appeal court interpreted subsection 51(1) of the OHSA to require reports when:

    A worker or non-worker is killed or critically injured;
    The death or critical injury occurs at a place where (i) a worker is carrying out his or her employment duties at the time the incident occurs, or (ii) a place where a worker might reasonably be expected to be carrying out such duties in the ordinary course of his or her work;
    And there is some reasonable connection between the hazard giving rise to the death or critical injury and a realistic risk to worker safety at the workplace.

Brewers Retail pleaded guilty in a Brampton court in February 2013, to failing to acquaint a worker with a hazard in the handling, storage or use of a liquid chemical agent (Occupational Health and Safety Act, Section 25(2)(d)).

Two workers drank windshield washer fluid from an unlabelled vodka bottle. One man died.

Read the news brief from Ontario Courts.

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