Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Record OHS fine uncollectible thus meaningless

The Edmonton Journal is reporting a $2.4 million occupational health and safety fine against a pair of construction companies stemming from a 2008 fatality. A 15-metre high wall of dirt and rocks, which the companies knew to be unstable and decided not to shore up, collapsed on the worker.

Perera Development Corp. was dinged $1,437,500 while Perera Shawnee Ltd was hit for $1,035,000 for a total of $2,472,500 on 12 charges under the OHS Code. Company owner Don Perera still faces 10 similar charges.

The previous record OHS fine was $500,000. That said, both Perera companies are now bankrupt and there is no chance the province will collect any monies from this fine. That is to say, no real penalty was levied here. The employer did not even attend court to hear the victim impact statements.

The government’s response to this, according to spokesperson Barry Harrison, is:
"If this sets a threshold which future construction companies must follow, then it's a good thing.

"Maybe not all is lost. Maybe family and friends can take some satisfaction that it's a strong message to other companies that this won't be tolerated."

What I (continue to) see is relatively few inspections, no consequence for unsafe worksites, few prosecutions and no ability to make fines stick to employers no matter how negligent they are. The real message is that it remains open season on Alberta workers.

-- Bob Barnetson

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