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.
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