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Can Canadian Supervisors Get 45-Days In Jail For This OHS Violation?

This article will briefly explain how: One company supervisor received a prison sentence for something very fixable & how you can easily avoid this same tragedy.


The Case

What Happened:

In the court case: Ontario (Ministry of Labour) v. J.R. Contracting Property Services et al. ,  the employee of J.R. Contracting slipped off of a roof while ripping out shingles (Ontario Ministry of Labor)

The result? An employee permanently paralyzed below the waist.


What the Court Decided:

Mary Ross Hendriks (Justice of the Peace) penalized J.R. Contracting Property Services $75K and sentenced the worksite supervisor to forty-five prison days for their part in the accident.


The Court’s Reasoning:

The worker testified that J.R. Contracting did not provide the needed & necessary fall protection equipment or implement the needed training on this type of equipment.

It was concluded that this fits the definition of an employee under Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act.

A court decision was made. The supervisor did not ensure that the injured employee had access to the necessary protective devices. They said that she failed to furnish sufficient protection for workers exposed to fall hazards of over 3 meters.


Ruling Reasons:

  • Supervisor’s “serious disregard for public welfare statutes”.
  • Lack of compliance with previous court orders.
  • Continual flouting of regulatory standards concerning the workplace.
  • The lack of hope for rehabilitation.
  • The requirement for both overall and specific deterrence.
  • Lacking expression of any remorse for the employee’s pain and health.                 Ontario (Ministry of Labour) v. J.R. Contracting Property Services et al.


Prison Sentencing Factors

So what is often the big determining factor as to whether a person (or someone in the company) receives a fine or jail time?

Let us get our answer from a workplace law office. According to Matthews, Dinsdale & Clark LLP-

“OH&S regulatory offenses are, generally, negligence-based offenses rather than intent-based offenses – meaning they are, offenses of omission (failing to do something required) rather than the commission of a reckless or intentionally prohibited act.”

Gone are the days back in 1909 when social and legal responsibility for the physical condition of a labor force was a new concept. In time the law increased by levying financial penalties.

Now these legal responsibilities have developed to potential prison sentences if neglected.

Under OH&S legislation, jail sentences seemed to be mostly designed as a last resort, inflicted with moderation by the courts.

Potential prison sentences vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. One month terms (per offense), for example in Prince Edward Island. Whereas possible 2-year terms (per offense) in Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, and the Yukon (with judgments of up to two & three years that are possible for succeeding offenses), under the Canada Labour Code.

Financial penalties are the most typical of the OH&S offenses.

However, we can now find Canadian OH&S rulings that hint at a change towards more prison sentences for supervisors, managers, directors, and officers.


The Simple Solution:

To help ensure that something like this does not happen to your supervisors, managers, directors, officers, and your company, learn some simple OH&S guidelines.

If anyone is at risk of falling three meters or more at the job site, then make sure everyone wears the proper fall protection equipment.

If fall protection is needed, establish an entire fall protection program (If one is not already in place).

The OH&S instruction course should include training workers, selecting, outfitting, and inspecting the equipment.

TriTech, located in Grande Prairie, offers this kind of crucial training here:

Fall Protection Introduction & User Level (OSSA & Non-OSSA Available)

Locations for Canada: Alberta, British Columbia & the Northwest Territory

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Brian Tiedemann

About Me

The Best Workplace Safety & Training Course Provider In Grande Prairie & The Peace Country.

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