The expendables – the life of Ontario construction workers worth a mere pittance
$125,000 was the total fine levied against a Brampton firm convicted of killing one worker and severely injuring another, when a 26-foot high wall collapsed last October.
February 5, 2014 by Alec Caldwell
Two weeks ago, in Brampton, Ont., yet another construction-related company was prosecuted in the fatal death of a worker.
English Prestige Builders Ltd., a company that provides real estate project management services, pleaded guilty to failing to ensure that the health and safety of workers was protected. For the death of one worker, English Prestige was fined a total of $75,000. For the severe injuries sustained by another worker, English Prestige was slapped on the wrist with a further $25,000 fine.
English Prestige had been hired to demolish an interior concrete block wall at Cosmos Furniture Ltd. They subbed this work out to a firm called Immaculate Scrap Metal Disposal, who on Oct. 28 last year had four workers working in the vicinity of the wall.
The wall, about 26 feet high, collapsed and two of Immaculate’s men were impacted: one died, the other suffered severe injuries. The other two workers escaped any injuries.
The modesty of these fines, I believe, shows that Ontario courts have no teeth in clamping down on those found guilty of exposing people to work dangers causing disabilities and death.
This might sound harsh, but I believe that jail should be the minimum sentence dished out to all those who leave families without a son, wives or spouses without a husband, children without fathers.
And we’ll never know what pain or suffering the individual who died experienced.
The second worker was luckier – if youu can call him lucky. He received injuries that I’m sure will disable him and his mind for the rest of his life. He suffered severe trauma to the back, chest and pelvic area.
On top of the fines mentioned, the court also imposed a 25-per-cent “victim fine surcharge” ($25,000) against English Prestige, paid towards a special government fund set up for victims.
So, in total, $125,000 was the total measly amount of all fines levied against this company, found guilty of failing to protect these workers, under the Occupation Health and Safety Act and administered by the Ministry of Labour.
Adding insult to death (insult to injury doesn’t cut it), I’ll assume the fine money paid by this company will become a write off in their yearly tax return. I wonder how much profit these companies made on the backs of these two workers?
Finally, get out your calculator and take a guess at the income loss to both these workers’ families, if they had survived and worked to age 65. It would be million of dollars. Imagine the effect this is going to have on their loved ones.
It’s time politicians stood up and made changes to our antiquated laws. I say again: There should be a minimum price to pay for someone’s life and someone’s injuries, no matter where you live in Canada or elsewhere in this world!
What do you think? Let us know your views on this sad news item, below.
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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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