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Construction Site Fatality Results in $90,000 Fine for Construction Company

Court Bulletin

Construction Site Fatality Results in $90,000 Fine for Construction Company

Ministry of Labour

Convicted: Dominus Construction (2005) Corporation, 56 The Esplanade, Suite 308, Toronto, Ontario, a construction company.

Location: A condominium construction project at 25 Queens Quay East, Toronto, Ontario.

Description of Offence: A person (not a worker) entered a building and fell down an elevator shaft, later sucuumbing to injuries. No signs were posted on the site warning of danger or that entry was forbidden, as required by law.

Date of Offence: May 17, 2016.

Date of Conviction: July 27, 2018.

Penalty Imposed:

  • Following a guilty plea, Dominus Construction was fined $90,000 in Toronto court by Justice of the Peace Sunny Ng; Crown Counsel Tom Schneider.
  • The court also imposed a 25-per-cent victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act. The surcharge is credited to a special provincial government fund to assist victims of crime.

Background:

  • On May 17, 2016, the Ministry of Labour was notified by Toronto Police Service that a person had fallen into an elevator shaft on a construction project located at 25 Queens Quay East in Toronto. The building was a condominimum project of Dominus Construction Corporation.
  • The incident occurred in a unit that was to be equipped with its own elevator. The elevator equipment had not yet been installed in the elevator shaft.
  • A worker installing flooring on the second floor of the unit heard a noise downstairs, went to investigate and heard a person at the bottom of the elevator shaft calling for help.  Emergency Services were called.
  • The individual fell about 15 feet down the shaft and later died from the injuries.
  • The individual did not have authorization to enter the building and investigations were not able to determine how or why the individual entered the building.
  • There were temporary doors installed at three entrances to the elevator shaft identical in appearance to other interior doors in the unit: simple wooden doors, without a handle/knob or lock. The knob hole was drilled out.
  • It was common practice at this construction site to close the access doors to the unit but to leave them unlocked while the workers were inside. Doors to the elevator shaft were typically held in the closed position by wedging a piece of wood through the pre-drilled knob hole of the door and into the pre-drilled knob latch hole in the door frame.
  • Although there was some signage on the external fencing at the site indicating "Danger due to Construction," this signage was  insufficient to warn of the hazard of the open elevator shaft, and there was no "DANGER - entry forbidden" sign on any of the doors leading into the  shaft, as required by Ontario Regulation 213/91 (the Construction Projects Regulation, section 44).
  • As such the defendant failed to ensure that adequate warning signage was in place and thereby violated section 23(1)(a)  of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

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