Seven years after an incident at a dealership in LaSalle, Quebec where a mechanic was badly burned by a faulty fuel pipe, the criminal case against the garage supervisor has fi nally been resolved. Supervisor Mark Hritchuk was charged with two counts of criminal negligence causing bodily harm in 2005 in relation to the incident. Moments before he was scheduled to begin a jury trial, Mr. Hritchuk pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of one count of criminal negligence causing bodily harm.
During the plea, the judge commented that he had trouble assigning liability to Mr. Hritchuk in this case as he was merely delegating the work to a mechanic and was relying on their experience to perform it. The injured worker had been working as a mechanic in the garage for 22 years. The Crown prosecutor told the court that where one could criticize the service manager was in his sin of omission that he failed to ensure that the mechanics were working with equipment that was safe. Mr. Hritchuk has no criminal record and will return to court in June for a sentencing hearing.
The company that Mr. Hritchuk works for, Gabriel Volkwagen, was fi ned $15,000.00 as a result of the incident by the Commission de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CSST). The case against Mr. Hritchuk proceeded to the criminal court following a complaint from the victim to the police that no criminal charges had been laid. At the preliminary inquiry into the matter, one of the victims, Mr. Daoust, explained that a “law of silence” with respect to health and safety violations prevailed in many garages in Québec and that this needed to stop to prevent future injuries.
Bill C-45 update
Following the resolution in this case, there are only two outstanding Bill C-45 occupational criminal negligence cases that have yet to be resolved - the Karl Lilgert, Queen of the North prosecution in British Columbia and the Metron Construction prosecution in Ontario. The Metron case is scheduled for a preliminary hearing over three months this year and the Queen of the North case is scheduled for trial in January 2013. There has yet to be a trial decision providing an analysis of the corporate criminal negligence provisions.
Source: La Presse, March 13, 2012