Thursday, May 31, 2012

OHS prosecutions in Ontario

An Ontario law firm has published some analysis of occupational health and safety prosecutions in Ontario. This analysis included 863 prosecutions resolved between January 2009 and June 2010 (so 575 per annum). 

My first reaction was that that is a lot of prosecutions. Alberta resolves between 10 and 20 prosecutions a year. On a per capita basis, Ontario’s prosecutes 10 times as many OHS charges than Alberta. Also recall that Ontario has an active OHS ticket system as well--something Alberta has been dithering on since 2004. 

The vast majority of prosecutions involve actual or potential worker injuries and a third of prosecutions are in the construction industry (which accounts for only 5% of employment activity).

The study found that at least one party is convicted and fined in 82% of prosecutions. Full trials are relatively uncommon and typically go badly for the defendant. Interestingly, those that plead guilty and have the court set their fine have fines 45% lower than those companies that plead guilty and agree on a fine with the Ministry of Labour.

-- Bob Barnetson

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