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Canadian construction project manager gets prison time

Posted On: Jan. 11, 2016 12:00 AM CST

A project manager in Ontario, Canada, received a prison sentence of 3½ years for his role in a workplace incident that killed four employees in 2009.

Ontario Court Judge Ian MacDonnell sentenced Metron Construction Ltd. project manager Vadim Kazenelson on Monday to concurrent jail sentences after he was found guilty of four counts of criminal negligence causing death and one count causing bodily harm in a June 2015 court case, according to a statement issued by the Ontario Federation of Labor.

Four employees were killed and another seriously injured when a swing stage collapsed at a Toronto high-rise on Dec. 24, 2009.

In 2012, Metron Construction received Ontario's first criminal conviction since the Criminal Code of Canada was amended in response to the 1992 Westray Mine disaster, according to the statement. In that incident, 26 underground miners were killed in an explosion, according to the government of Nova Scotia.

Metron was fined more than $1 million dollars for the 2009 incident, according to the statement.

The federation launched its “Kill a Worker, Go to Jail” campaign immediately following the Metron incident to demand jail time for bosses whose criminal negligence results in a worker's death, according to the statement. The company's owner and director, Joel Swartz, did not face any jail time despite pleading guilty to four offenses under the Canadian Occupational Health and Safety Act.

The jail sentence marks the first time an Ontario employer will face criminal consequences for negligence causing the death of a worker, Ontario Federation of Labor President Chris Buckley, said in the statement.

“I hope this verdict sends shivers down the spine of employers across Ontario,” he said. “The message from this Ontario court echoes the campaign of the Ontario Federation of Labour: if you kill a worker, you will go jail. No prison term or financial penalty can bring back the workers who died or undo the pain felt by their families, but this sentence has the power to prevent other workers from suffering a similar fate.”

Metron officials could not be immediately reached for comment.