Report on Ontario construction industry recommends mandatory safety training

Investigation of construction industry launched in wake of Christmas Eve 2009 scaffolding accident that killed four workers

A report on Ontario’s construction industry stemming from the deaths of four construction workers a year ago is recommending mandatory safety training for all construction workers in the province.

The report is the end result of an investigation of workplace safety by a panel of labour experts, led by former Ontario deputy minister of labour Tony Dean, following the deaths of four construction workers and the serious injury of a fifth when their scaffold collapsed on Dec. 24, 2009. The workers fell 13 storeys when the scaffold broke in two.

Sixty-one Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) charges were laid against various parties as a result of the accident. Thirty charges were laid against Metron Construction Corporation, with an additional 16 against a Metron senior manager and eight against a supervisor. In addition, the company that supplied the work platform, Swing ‘N’ Scaff, was also charged with four OHSA violations and its director was charged on three counts individually. Metron and three employees were also charged with criminal negligence.

Inspections of construction sites in Ontario following the accident found numerous safety hazards and poorly trained workers.

The report said the investigation found the scaffolding incident was a symptom of widespread safety issues in Ontario’s construction industry, with between 73 and 101 people killed and thousands injured in the past five years. As a result, it recommended mandatory safety training for every construction worker in Ontario, including information about rights and responsibilities in the workplace for workers and supervisors.

The report also recommended the creation of a prevention organization within the ministry that would report directly to the Minister of Labour.

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