Canadian Contractor

Steve Payne   

Owner of killer scaffold company won’t face jail

Canadian Contractor

Four men fell 13 storeys to their deaths in the worst construction accident in more than half a century in Toronto

Joel Swartz, the owner of Metron Construction, the company from whose swing stage scaffold four workers fell 13 storeys to their deaths at a Toronto apartment building jobsite on Christmas Eve, 2009, will not be going to jail.

He will avoid jail because, last week, prosecutors dropped Swartz’s charges of criminal negligence causing death as the trial begins to wrap up at Toronto’s Old City Hall. Conviction had already looked unlikely.

The trial has attracted the attention of both the public and the construction industry throughout North America. The four deaths, plus serious injuries to a fifth worker, made this the worst construction accident in more than 50 years in Toronto. There were six workers using the 12-metre-long swing stage scaffold. They were boarding it on their way down to the ground at the end of the workday, heading home for Christmas Eve. But only two of them were using lifelines.

Nevertheless, although the criminal charges have been dropped, prosecutors are still looking for a $1-million fine against Metron. The Ontario Ministry of Labour has also charged Swing N’Scaff, suppliers of the scaffold to Metron, but there has been no decision in that case yet.

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