Corporate directors jailed for health and safety violations after death of worker

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An Ontario court has ordered two corporate directors to serve 25 days in jail for failing to take reasonable care to ensure that their company, New Mex Canada Inc., complied with the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act and regulations.

The directors and their company pleaded guilty to the charges. In addition to jail time for the directors, the company was fined $250,000 plus a 25% victim fund surcharge.

The charges came after the Ministry of Labour investigated the death of a worker in January 2013. The worker was operating a combination forklift and operator-up platform which had been modified to add an additional platform supported by the forks. This additional platform had no railings and the worker was not wearing fall protection. The worker was found dead after apparently falling from the platform.

During the investigation, the warehouse workers indicated that there was no health and safety training in the workplace and no fall protection equipment was provided. The Ministry of Labour investigators found several other health and safety violations in the workplace.

Jail sentences are relatively rare in Canadian occupational health and safety cases, even more so where the accused is convicted in the capacity as corporate director. This decision serves as a reminder to corporate directors that there are serious consequences for failing to ensure that their companies comply with health and safety obligations.

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