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Landmark Court of Appeal Decision: Jail Upheld for Kazenelson in Metron Case

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"Do" Diligence: OHS/WSIB Newsletter

In January 2016, Vadim Kazenelson, the Project Manager in the Metron case, was sentenced to 3½ years in prison for his role in the scaffolding collapse at a Toronto apartment building that left four workers dead on Christmas Eve 2009. Kazenelson appealed his conviction. We now know the outcome of his appeal.

In a landmark decision on January 30, 2018, the Ontario Court of Appeal denied Kazenelson's  appeal. The appeal court justice ruled that the trial judge had determined the case correctly, confirming his sentence of three and a half years in prison concurrently on the charges.

During the trial, the court found that Kazenelson permitted six workers to board the swing stage even though he was aware that there were only two lifelines available for use. The court considered the fact that when Kazenelson arrived at the 13th floor, he asked the site supervisor about the lifelines. The site supervisor said "Don't worry about it" and Kazenelson took no other steps. The court found that the totality of Kazenelson's conduct amounted to wanton and reckless disregard for the lives or safety of the workers on the swing stage; he should have taken further positive steps to prevent harm especially after his conversation with the supervisor.  

The Court of Appeal's decision to uphold the significant term of imprisonment carries a strong message of accountability and personal legal risk for individuals seen as responsible for preventing dangerous conditions in the workplace.

Since this accident, the Ontario government has made significant changes to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, most notably increasing fines for both corporations and individuals, with the passing of Bill 177.


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