One should never assume that safety regulation is the same in Canada and other English-speaking countries as in the U.S. I often look to the U.K., Australian and Canadian Occupational Safety Administrations for practical ideas for compliance, but the systems are quite different. Read the instructive article on corporate criminal exposure related to safety.
Ontario Court Triples Contractor’s Safety Penalty in 2009 Accident
FROM ENR: An Ontario Court of Appeals earlier this month more than tripled the criminal negligence fine against Toronto-based contractor Metron Construction in connection with the falling deaths of four employees on Christmas Eve 2009.
The court raised the fine from $200,000 to $750,000 (Canadian), resulting in the largest such fine imposed for criminal negligence on a Canadian corporation.
“It is a recent development that there would be court acceptance of penalties that may bankrupt companies,” wrote Jeremy Warning, a partner in the Toronto office of Montreal-based Heenan Blaikie LLP, a law firm. “It represents a touchstone case…and the penalty imposed by the Court of Appeal will be one by which subsequent penalties, particularly under the Criminal Code, are measured.”
Metron president Joel Swartz pled guilty on behalf of the company to four counts of criminal negligence in 2012. It was the first company convicted in Ontario under criminal negligence provisions of the Criminal Code, amended in 2004 to include corporate liability for senior officers’ actions.
Court documents indicate that the criminal court’s $200,000 fine “was three times the net earnings of [Metron] in its last profitable year.”