The president of a Toronto construction company, two company officials, and the company itself are reportedly facing four charges of criminal negligence causing death and one count each of criminal negligence causing bodily harm following a workplace accident on Christmas Eve 2009 resulting in the deaths of four construction workers.
The charges, which carry the potential of life in prison, are distinctive in that they mark only the second time in Ontario history that company officials have been charged with criminal negligence causing death in connection with workplace fatalities. The Criminal Code amendment allowing criminal charges in circumstances involving fatalities in workplaces, known as Bill C-45, was passed six years ago. Bill C-45 allows for corporate executives, directors and managers who act wrongfully or neglect to uphold their responsibilities to make and keep workplaces healthy and safe to be charged under the Criminal Code of Canada (that is in addition to the common, historical approach of dealing with such matters under provincial occupational health and safety legislation).
The four charges followed the collapse of a platform at an apartment building on Kipling Avenue in Toronto on December 24, 2009, which caused five construction workers to fall 13 stories, and four workers to be killed. One worker survived, suffering severe leg and spinal injuries.
These charges highlight the importance of employers taking all reasonable precautions in the workplace to prevent accidents and injuries.