Alberta employer slapped with record fine

Construction company ordered to pay $345,000 health and safety fine, the highest in province's history, after worker fell to his death

An Alberta construction company has been slapped with the largest health and safety fine in the province’s history.

H&H Stucco and Siding Ltd. has been sentenced to pay a combined total of $345,000 — a $300,000 fine and $45,000 victim fine surcharge — after one of its workers fell to his death. The company pled guilty to failing to ensure the health and safety of a worker.

On March 27, 2003, Alex Elsenkrein, 24, was killed after falling from a fourth floor balcony at a condominium construction site in Edmonton. The balcony reportedly had no guard rail and Elsenkrein, who had a visual impairment, was not wearing safety gear.

According to an article in the Edmonton Journal, the court was attempting to send a strong message to other construction companies that violating the province’s Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) has consequences.

Chris Chodan, a spokesman for Alberta Human Resources and Employment, called it a “very significant case” because a precedent has been set.

“That is why the law was changed,” he said. “It is justified. There should be a high penalty so people take it seriously.”

The province changed the act in 2002, raising the maximum fine for violations of the OHSA from $150,000 to $500,000.

Medican Developments Inc., the owner and prime contractor of the worksite, was also charged with failing to ensure that there was compliance with the act. The company is scheduled to appear in court on Dec. 15.

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