Earlier this year, we wrote about a project manager who received a prison sentence for his involvement in a workplace accident. The accident occurred when a swing stage collapsed on a construction project, and four workers fell to their deaths. The full article can be accessed here.
This month, another individual was sentenced to prison for violating the Occupational Health and Safety Act (the “OHSA”) on August 17, 2015. The violations related to an accident that occurred when a worker fell from the roof of a two-storey home. At the time of the accident, the worker was working for AB Clothier Roofing, which is a roofing business operated as a sole proprietorship by Mr. A. Bradley Clothier.
Fall protection and lifelines did not prevent the worker’s fall because Mr. Clothier had not made them available to the worker. In light of this and in an attempt to deceive the Ministry of Labour, Mr. Clothier directed one of his workers to climb onto the roof after-the-fact and put up fall protection and lifelines.
Due to his misconduct, Mr. Clothier was charged with committing the following offences:
1. attempting to hinder, obstruct, molest or interfere with an inspector in the exercise of his or her power, or performance of a duty, under section 54 of the OHSA; and
2. failing to ensure a worker was adequately protected by a method of fall protection contrary to section 25(1)(c) of the OHSA.
Mr. Clothier pled guilty to the charges and was sentenced in accordance with section 66 of the OHSA. He was sentenced to three days in prison for his attempt to deceive the Ministry of Labour, and he was also fined $5,000 for his failure to ensure that the worker was adequately protected.
Mr. Clothier’s sentence demonstrates the importance of acting honestly during the course of a Ministry of Labour investigation. That said, there are limits on the powers of Ministry of Labour inspectors, and employers have rights that can be exercised. To ensure that rights are respected and limits are not crossed, employers are encouraged to speak with legal counsel as soon as possible (and safe) when a workplace accident has occurred.