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Quebec firm fined $110,000 for criminal negligence

By COS staff

A Quebec judge has fined a paving-stone manufacturer$110,000 for criminal negligence in the death of a worker, in what was said tobe the country’s first criminal conviction and sentencing of a companyinvolving a workplace death.

Quebec court Judge Paul Chevalier handed down the sentenceon March 17, after Transpave pleaded guilty last December to the criminalnegligence charge that followed the death in 2005 of 23-year-old SteveL’Ecuyer, a Transpave employee.  Of the $110,000 penalty, $10,000 will go towards provincial programs that provide assistance to victims of criminal and regulatory offences.

L’Ecuyer was killed while trying to clear a jam in amachine. Investigators found the company was negligent when it allowed L’Écuyerto operate the machine while its safety mechanism wasdisabled. The probe also revealed that L’Ecuyer was not given propertraining on how to safely operate the machine.

Reacting to the sentence, Quebec Federation of Labourpresident Michel Arsenault criticized the Crown for describing the company asexemplary in its health and safety record, when the CSST’s investigation hasfound that the safety mechanism that would have saved the life of L’Ecuyer hadbeen disabled.

In a statement, Arsenault said criminal charges should also bebrought against those individuals in the company responsible for disabling thesafety mechanism that cost L’Ecuyer his life.

The Transpave conviction and sentencing was the firstcriminal conviction of a company involving a workplace death since Bill C-45was passed in 2004.

Bill C-45 introduced amendments to the Criminal Code that required organizations andcorporations to ensure proper implementation of workplace health andsafety systems. This new requirement, contained in the criminal negligence provisionsof the Criminal Code under s. 217.1, states that “everyone who undertakes, orhas the authority, to direct how another person does work or performs a task isunder a legal duty to take reasonable steps to prevent bodily harm to thatperson, or any other person, arising from that work or task.”

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