TORONTO - "No one has yet gone to jail. Until individuals are held accountable for worker deaths, workers will continue to take their lives in their hands by going to work," said Ken Neumann, United Steelworkers (USW) National Director.
Metron Construction has pleaded guilty to criminal negligence for the 2009 deaths of four Toronto workers who fell from scaffolding on the job. Prosecutors are seeking a $1 million fine for the company, meanwhile their president will not be personally fined or see any jail time.
"There have to be real consequences, for employers who are negligent, or they will continue to be so," said Wayne Fraser, USW Director for Ontario and Atlantic Canada. "It's time to set an example to show that negligence doesn't pay."
The 2004 Westray amendments to the Criminal Code of Canada made it easier to hold corporations criminally liable for failing to keep their employees safe. "Since the Act was implemented, 8,000 workers have died on the job in Canada, only three employers have been convicted, but not a single person has gone to jail," said Neumann.
"While the fine against the company is historic, as long as individuals are off the hook for negligence in workplaces they control, workers will continue to be at risk," says Neumann.
Only one of the six workers on the swing-stage scaffold was attached to a safety line at the time of the tragedy. Occupational Health and Safety Act regulations state there should have been only two workers on the scaffolding.
Ken Neumann, United Steelworkers National Director, 416-544-5951
Bob Gallagher, United Steelworkers firstname.lastname@example.org 416-434-2221