Canadian Contractor

Alec Caldwell   

Crown seeks four to five years in jail for project manager of swing stage tragedy

Canadian Contractor

Vadim Kazenelson was the man in charge of the jobsite when 4 workers fell to their deaths from a collapsed swing-stage in Toronto, Christmas Eve 2009. He was found criminally negligent in June and his sentencing will occur in January.

CARAHS WAH Advert photoCrown prosecutor Rochelle Direnfeld recommended to a judge in a Toronto court last week that the project manager in charge at the infamous Toronto swing stage collapse on Dec. 24, 2009, Vadim Kazenelson, face up to five years in prison for his criminal negligence. Testimony during his trial showed that he knew the four workers who fell to their deaths were not tied off – and did nothing about it.

“I want to be begin by apologizing for the incident,” said Vadim Kazenelson, during his sentencing hearing appearance.

“I am going to live all my life with that pain,” Kazenelson said. Kazenelson was found guilty, back in June, of four counts of criminal negligence causing death and one count of criminal negligence causing bodily harm.

Kazenelson was aware that fall protections were not in place before the collapse. The workers who died were Aleksey Blumberg, Alesandrs Bondarevs, Vladamir Korostin and foreman Fayzullo Fazilov. These men’s ages ranged from 21 to 40 years old. Who knew that morning would be their last? Shohruh Tojiddinov was the lone worker who was tied off. He would later testify that Kazenelson asked him to lie about the incident to investigators.


Vadim Kazenelson’s sentence is expected to be delivered on Jan. 11, 2016.

The trauma of the families of the men who died are unimaginable. But think also of Vadim Kazenelson and his family. Imagine the huge weight he carries every waking hour. He had a lapse of judgement – a criminal lapse, legally – but we are capable of lapses of judgement. Kazenelson’s suffering will not end.

If you have ever taken a safety shortcut, you have committed the same error as Vadim Kazenelson. Maybe the safety shortcuts you have taken – or still take every day – will not result in the deaths of four men, a long jail sentence, and a lifetime of guilt and trauma. But injuries and deaths and construction almost all stem from shortcuts, and perhaps you should take a second about Working at Heights training, which is where some of the most dangerous shortcuts in construction occur.

The swing stage disaster was the catalyst for change in Ontario. It led to the new Working at Heights training which arrived April 1st 2015. Working at Heights can start from climbing a ladder above 3 meters. See our FAQ’s on Working at Heights.

If you have questions on any safety issues or concerns, simply contact us toll free at 1 866 366 2930.

CARAHS is an approved Ontario Ministry of Labour Working at Heights Provider # Pro- 34609

View our approved listing on the Ministry of Labour (Ontario) web site

Visit our online Safety e-courses WHMIS

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