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Ontario Erectors Association

In a Flash

3.5 Year Jail Sentence for Supervisor Involved in Fatal Christmas Eve Swing Stage Accident Upheld on Appeal

On January 30, 2018, the Ontario Court of Appeal released its decision on the appeal against the convictions and sentence of the project manager involved in a fatal swing stage accident on Christmas Eve, 2009. Vadim Kazenelson, was the second individual to be convicted of criminal negligence under the 2004 Bill C-45 amendments to the Criminal Code which imposed specific legal duties with respect to workplace health and safety.

At trial, Kazenelson was convicted of four counts of criminal negligence causing death and one count of criminal negligence causing bodily harm after a swing stage collapsed and five workers fell more than 100 feet to the ground. The trial judge found that Kazenelson failed to take any steps to prevent workers from boarding the swing stage while knowing that there were only two lifelines available, which did not comply with a fundamental rule that fall protection is required by all workers on a swing stage because of the risk that the swing stage could fail. The trial judge found this conduct was exacerbated because Kazenelson had no information about the load capacity of the swing stage, yet allowed a total of 7 people to board along with their equipment. For the trial judge, this behaviour showed wanton and reckless disregard for the lives and safety of the workers and represented a marked departure from the standards expected of a reasonable supervisor. Consequently, Kazenelson was sentenced to 3 ½ years on each count to be served concurrently (meaning at the same time).

In this article we discuss the reasons that Mr. Kazenelson’s appeal was dismissed.

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If you have any questions about this topic or any other questions relating to workplace law, please do not hesitate to contact a Mathews Dinsdale lawyer.


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Mathews Dinsdale, RBC Centre, Suite 3600, 155 Wellington St. W.TorontoOntario M5V 3H1 Canada