TORONTO, ON - Two directors of an Ontario furniture importer and retailer were slapped with 25-day prison sentences and a $250,000 fine after pleading guilty to safety violations in the workplace death of an employee.
Ontario Provincial Court Justice Jill Fletcher sentenced New Mex Canada Inc. directors Baldev Purba and Rajinder Saini following their conviction and fine levied for Occupational Health and Safety Act violations in the January 2013 incident. Both men were also ordered to take a health and safety course.
According to the court bulletin, on January 18, 2013, a forklift operator suffered fatal blunt force trauma to the head when he fell from an order picker. According to reports, the machine had been "modified and had an additional platform supported by the forks that was tack-welded to the manufacturer-equipped operator platform. The added platform did not have a guardrail around it and the worker using it was not wearing fall protection or safety shoes."
A Ministry of Labour investigation found multiple violations of Ontario's Occupational Health and Safety Act and of Ontario Regulation 851, including the lack of a safety belt or harness. The company was also found guilty in "failing to provide information, instruction and supervision to a worker regarding fall protection and/or working from a height."
The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) said it will also pursue criminal consequences for what it terms "negligent bosses." The OFL represents 54 unions and 1 million workers in Ontario.
"We are very happy with this court decision. There is no question that workers and their families will sleep better tonight knowing that negligent bosses are finally going to jail," said OFL President Sid Ryan. "However, this decision does not go far enough. This employer should be facing criminal charges in addition to Occupational Health and Safety violations. A mere 25 days in jail and $250,000 fine does not send a strong enough message. A worker's life should be worth far more."
An ongoing campaign by OFL, "Kill a Worker, Go to Jail" seeks "jail time for employers convicted for putting workers' lives at risk," Ryan said. "Workplace fatalities have risen 36 percent over the past five years and the only way to stop this carnage in the workplace is to put negligent bosses behind bars."
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