I struggle quite a bit when I write a blog post where there was an accident in which people were injured, or worse, killed. We try to write positively about safety as much as possible, however, here in Canada (specifically Toronto where Field ID is located) there is a very big story about charges being laid in a scaffolding accident. I wanted to bring awareness to this event for our readers because it is substantial and relevant.
Last year, on Christmas Eve 4 workers fell to their death when their scaffolding came down while working on the 13th floor of an 18 storey building. A fifth person miraculously survived the accident and went on to file a civil suit. There are many news stories about this already, so I won’t dive any deeper into the incident itself.
Of course this prompted a very large investigation by the Ministry of Labour, and this investigation has now resulted in federal charges. The charges laid in this incident are quite staggering. A total of $17,000,000 in proposed fines and the possibility of jail time with 61 charges in total! I have not done my research yet ( I will) but I can only imagine this is one of the most severe repercussions in Canadian history for a workplace incident.
I participate in a LinkedIn group related to safety called The Canadian Society of Safety Engineers, and of course these charges sparked a discussion. Most of the discussion revolved around whether or not these types of fines and charges make an impact going forward. This is a tough question to answer, I think short-term wise, these fines will have an impact, but in the long-term, I am not so sure. Any executive, safety manager or site foreman reading about these charges will be discussing safety quite a bit in the coming weeks and months. However, it is human nature to fall back into bad habits when you go a long time without a fine or incident. Most importantly, we can only hope that people learn from this incident, but also from the repercussions on the individuals who were negligent as well.