Even Careless, Reckless Workers Protected by OHSA: Ontario Court

A Justice of the Peace has reaffirmed that Ontario’s safety laws are intended to protect not only safe workers, but also workers who make mistakes, are careless or are reckless.

A steel beam that was temporarily welded to a pile broke free and fell on a worker while another pile was being vibrated into place.

The company argued that the welder had used the wrong type of weld, and that the company reasonably believed that the welder would use the correct weld – a “full” weld.

Justice of the Peace Mackey stated:

“What Deep Foundations, and all other employers must remember on a daily basis is, and the Spanway Buildings decision says it well, that ‘workplace safety regulations . . . are intended to prevent workplace accidents that arise when workers make mistakes, are careless, or are even reckless.’ No one is expected to be perfect, but an employer has a responsibility to be on top of the safety of their employees, and not just by going through the motions of manuals and training.”

The court found that the employer failed to take the reasonable precaution of having a professional engineer provide the requirements for welding where one and/or more pile was tack welded while another pile was being driven.

Ministry of Labour v. Deep Foundations Contractors Inc., 2012 ONCJ 701 (CanLII)

Subscribe and stay updated
Receive our latest blog posts by email.
Adrian Miedema

About Adrian Miedema

Adrian is a partner in the Toronto Employment group of Dentons Canada LLP. He advises and represents public- and private-sector employers in employment, health and safety and human rights matters. He appears before employment tribunals and all levels of the Ontario courts on behalf of employers. He also advises employers on strategic and risk management considerations in employment policy and contracts.

Full bio