On May 25, 2010, Ford Motor Company of Canada (“Ford”) pleaded guilty to two counts of failing to take all reasonable precautions to protect the safety of workers in two separate fatal incidents. On January 31, 2008, Sarwan Baraich, a 20-year Ford veteran, was fatally injured when he was crushed between two forklifts at the company's Oakville, Ontario assembly plant. The worker was standing beside one of the forklifts when another worker reversed a separate forklift into the individual. The Ministry of Labour’s investigation found that the operator of the forklift did not keep a clear view of the vehicle’s path of travel, resulting in the fatality. One year later, on January 14, 2009, Shara Flanigan, who had been with the company for 12 years, was killed while driving a lift truck carrying an unsecured pallet at Ford's Bramalea parts distribution centre. The worker was driving the lift truck down a narrow aisle when the pallet struck a storage rack. The worker was crushed between the pallet and the lift truck. A Ministry of Labour investigation found that Ford's material movement policies and procedures were not adequate.
As outlined in s. 66(2) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the maximum penalty faced by a corporation for a contravention of the Act or its regulations is a $500,000 fine. A fine of $850,000 was imposed by Justice of the Peace Jerry Woloschuk for the two fatalities at Ford. In addition to the fine, the court imposed a 25 per cent victim fine surcharge of $212,500, as required by the Provincial Offences Act. The fine, which totalled $1,062,500, is the largest levied by the Ontario courts in recent history for multiple violations of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
The amount of the fine is typically determined by taking into consideration factors such as the size of the company involved, the scope of economic activity in issue, the extent of actual and potential harm to the public, and the maximum penalty prescribed by statute. Above all, the amount of the fine is determined by the need to enforce regulatory standards by deterrence. The million dollar penalty levied in this case is an indication that the Ministry of Labour may be seeking higher fines for workplace fatalities.