In what is still a relatively rare occurrence, an Ontario supervisor has been sent to jail for violating the Occupational Health and Safety Act after a worker died. Lying to the police and Ministry of Labour inspector did not help.
Paul Markewycz was the owner and operator of a company called Roofing Medics Ltd. In 2011, a worker who was installing roofing membrane from a ladder fell approximately six metres and struck a fence. The worker was wearing fall protection equipment but it was not connected to anything when he fell. The worker was pronounced dead shortly afterwards.
Markewycz told the police that the worker fell at the Markewycz home while helping to install roof vents. A coroner told a Ministry of Labour inspector about the incident. The inspector attended at the Markewycz home for an investigation. A week after the accident, Markewycz and his lawyer met with Ministry of Labour inspectors and said that the incident had taken place in Toronto and not at his home. He also told the inspectors that worker had been employed with Roofing Medics, which had not reported the accident to the Ministry of Labour as required by the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
Markewicz was charged with and pleaded guilty to failing as a supervisor to ensure that a worker works with the required protective devices, and to knowingly giving false information to an inspector. He was jailed for 15 days. Roofing Medics was fined $50,000 for two violations including failing to notify an inspector of the accident immediately and in writing within 48 hours.
This case illustrates how the Ministry of Labour will seek severe penalties against those who lie to inspectors. Honesty is, as our parents told us, the best policy.
The Ministry of Labour press release may be accessed
Adrian Miedema is a partner in the Toronto Employment Group of Dentons Canada LLP. He advises and represents public- and private-sector employers in employment, health and safety and human rights matters. He appears before employment tribunals and all levels of the Ontario courts on behalf of employers. He also advises employers on strategic and risk management considerations in employment policy and contracts. For more information, visit www.dentons.com or www.occupationalhealthandsafetylaw.com.