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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3 Comments » for Owner of killer scaffold company won’t face jail
  1. Les Bell says:

    There seems to be an expectation that this is somehow the owners fault. I would suggest that despite the fact that most diligent company owners have regular safety meetings and enforce safety on their sites it is impossible to watch everyone all the time.
    Most workers become complacent and comfortable roofing and high rigging workers included. Most of the rural “cash ” roofing that you see on the weekends is done by roofers or construction workers that know the rules and will wear the gear all week, but say it slows them down too much when working for cash on the weekend.
    Had these particular scaffold workers worn their gear all week on the same scaffold
    and just taken them off as they were descending because they had grown to trust it?

  2. Susan Mallette says:

    I am a Jr. Scaffolder (14 yrs) in Alberta, and according to our Occupational Health & Safety Regulations the company, the supervisor who oversaw the construction of the swingstage and the Jr. Scaffolder who put it together would all be liable for a fine of up to $500,000.00. What I would like to know is why were there six people on that swing stage and only two life lines? In AB every worker on a swing stage has to have his own lifeline!!!!.

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