Another conviction in the 2009 Toronto swing-stage collapse tragedy
Four of the six workers on the swing stage plunged to their deaths on Christmas Eve 2009. The criminal court cases continue.
July 8, 2015 by Alec Caldwell
Six years have passed since the swing stage in this photograph broke in two on Dec. 24, 2009. Four of the six workers who were on this platform, performing balcony repairs for Metron Construction at a high-rise property on Kipling Avenue in Northwest Toronto, plunged to their deaths, 13 floors below. Another worker was very severely injured. A single worker was saved by his lifeline. It was the highest profile construction tragedy in Toronto in the past 50 years.
The wheels of justice have slowly been grinding upon the responsible individuals for the past six years. Five parties have been found guilty under Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act and other statutes. Total fines to date have reached $1.24-million.
And the criminal trials continue. The latest responsible party to be found guilty, just two weeks ago, was Vadim Kazenelson, owner of Swing N Scaff Inc., which supplied the defective swing stage. On June 26 he was found guilty on four counts of criminal negligence causing bodily harm. Investigators found the welds on the platform were inadequate. As of today’s date (July 8), we are still waiting for Kazenelson to be sentenced.
The swing stage in question weighed more than 525 kg. It was designed by a professional engineer, which is good. But the problem appears not to have been the design but the welds. You might ask how Kazenelson would know about the integrity of the welds. Well, in these tragedies, the buck does stop somewhere. In this case, it stopped with Vadim Kazenelson.
One of the five previous parties prosecuted, a director of Metron Construction Corporation, was previously fined $90,000 for
(1) Failing to ensure that these non-English speaking workers received written material in their native languages
(2) Failing to keep training records up to date
(3) Failing to ensure that the swing stage was not defective or hazardous
(4) Failing to ensure that the swing stage was not loaded in excess of the load that the platform was designed and constructed to bear.
As a director of the company, well removed from the daily on-site work, how would he know about all this stuff? Again, the buck stops here.
In the aftermath of this incident, the Ontario Ministry of Labour (MOL) hatched its Working at Heights (Standard) Training course. It came into law on April 1st of this year. Meaning everyone climbing or working at or above the height of three metres must take and pass this new standard training course.
No matter what part of the construction world you hang out in, self-employed, a sub trade or an employee in home renovations, new residential home construction, commercial or industrial workplaces, everyone climbing or working above 3 metres has to take this course immediately or use transition rules – meaning no later than April 1, 2017. Confusion seems to center around the MOL transition period. But if you get it wrong, the buck will will stop with you, too.
CARAHS is here to answer any questions you might have on this article. Simply call us toll-free 1 866 366 2930.
By providing education and training, CARAHS reduces your risk of fines, job site closures and prosecution under the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act. We are independent of unions and government.
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Alec CaldwellAlec Caldwell is the Founder of CARAHS, a Health & Safety Organization. We are approved providers by the Ministry of Labour (Ontario) to teach Working at Heights Training (Pro#34609) Visit the Ministry of Labour's web site to view our listing
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