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Government, OH&S

Charges laid in one of seven fatal December 2020 incidents, what’s next?

Don Wall
Charges laid in one of seven fatal December 2020 incidents, what’s next?
FILE PHOTOS — Pictured from left is Henry Harder, 26, of Tillsonburg, Ont., who was one of two construction workers killed when a building collapsed in London, Ont. on Dec. 11, 2020; Andrew Orfanakos of Newmarket, Ont. who died in an incident on a construction site in Toronto Dec. 14, 2020; and Paolo “Paul” Moro of Essa, Ont. who died while working at the Ontario Tech University project site on Founders Drive in Oshawa Dec. 15, 2020.

With multiple charges laid in one fatal case from last December, the clock is ticking for the possible laying of other charges under Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) in four other fatal construction incidents that took place in the latter part of that month.

Under the OHSA, unlike the criminal justice system, charges must be laid within one year of the date of an offence. Last December, there were eight deaths in the sector.

Ontario’s Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development (MLTSD) recently announced it has laid eight charges in a double-fatality mishap that occurred Dec. 11. That day, part of a low-rise residential building under construction on Wonderland Road in London collapsed, killing John Martens of Langton, Ont. and Henry Harder of Tillsonburg, Ont. and injuring others.

The subsequent four deaths occurred as a result of incidents on Dec. 14, 15, 17 and 26.

In the ministry’s announcement of the charges laid in the Dec. 11 incident, Minister of Labour Monte McNaughton stated, “The ministry has been working tirelessly to determine the cause of this tragedy and has now concluded its investigation.

“Any company in Ontario that thinks worker safety is just the cost of doing business should think twice because they will quickly feel the full force of the law.

“We owe it to the families, friends and loved ones of the victims to ensure something like this never happens again.”

A ministry spokesperson was asked whether charges would be laid in the four later incidents and also whether there will be prosecutions in two other construction deaths from Dec. 2 and 8 of 2020. The ministry has not yet responded.

Asked why it took a full year to file charges in the London incident, MLTSD representative Harry Godfrey stated investigations can be complex, with multiple witnesses to be interviewed and the input of professional staff sought.

“The length of investigations will depend on the complexities of the case,” stated Godfrey.

Once an investigation is complete, ministry staff review the investigation report, he added, and if prosecution is warranted, charges are laid.

Six charges have been laid against iSpan Systems LP, including one count of failing to ensure that a building or structure is capable of supporting loads in accordance with good engineering practice.

East Elgin Concrete Forming Ltd. faces one charge of failing to provide information, instruction and supervision to a worker to protect the worker’s health and safety.

The eighth charge was laid against an unnamed person for providing negligent advice that endangered a worker.

A first court appearance is scheduled for Jan. 11, 2022 in London.

Details of the four later December deaths are as follows:

  • On Dec. 14, a 49-year-old male was fatally injured when the structure he was on was hit by a piece of concrete that fell while being hoisted at a multi-level residential project in Toronto. He was identified as Andrew Orfanakos.
  • On Dec. 15, a 54-year-old male was fatally injured when he was crushed by a precast concrete panel that was being unloaded at an institutional project in Oshawa. The worker, a member of LIUNA, was identified as Paul Moro of Essa, Ont.
  • On Dec. 17, a 31-year-old male died after he was hit by a vehicle while directing traffic at a multi-level residential project in Scarborough.
  • On Dec. 26, a 24-year-old male was fatally injured when he was struck by a falling beam during demolition at a commercial project in Windsor.

Watch for follow-up on these cases as more information is received.

Follow the author on Twitter @DonWall_DCN.

Recent Comments (3 comments)

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DOUG Walker Image DOUG Walker

Companies continue to be negligent in worker’s safety. Too often when informed of unsafe practices, by workers knowledgeable of such incidents, and practices. Those workers are ignored. In many cases of my own experience it hasn’t taken threatening comments to ever be taken seriously. After months of pressure management states they will look into it. Then promise a resolution that is still a further delay. Meanwhile the workers only trying to look out for themselves and others are ridiculed and even discriminated as well as unfairly disciplined. Better on the job protection needs to take place prior to such incidents. It’s unfortunate that the government ministries don’t have protection on their books for whistle blowers. Rather they often face the company and management wrath. Want to save lives start laying proactive charges instead of reactive charges. No fine or prosecution will bring them back.

Sean K Costello Image Sean K Costello

Design is the cause for almost all of these, buildings have never, ever been built so poorly, and cost so much. Compare a masonry structure on Spadina, to anything built in Vaughan or any other jurisdiction now, the difference is shocking. Three little pigs have been forgotten completely, but we taught our children that for a reason!!

Jennifer Newell Image Jennifer Newell

May these young men rest in eternal peace and know that because they left this earth in such a cruel way they may of helped stop workers from working in unsafe conditions.
I’m relieved to read charges have been laid against these companies. It’s about time.


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