Owner Receives Jail Time for Failure to Comply with OHSA

On May 9, 2019, Steven Bell, the owner of a Belleville roofing company, was sentenced to seven days in jail for failure to comply with Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and its regulations. On July 22, 2017, while observing a roofing project, a Ministry of Labour (MOL) inspector witnessed one of Bell’s employees working on a pitched roof without wearing any fall protection equipment. The employee was more than three metres above ground. No injuries were involved.

Prior to Bell’s most recent conviction, he had been fined on three separate occasions for similar contraventions:

  • On March 11, 2013, Steven Bell was fined $2000 for failing to provide three roofers with fall protection equipment while working more than three metres above ground. Later that year, on November 16, 2013, a MOL inspector observed four of Bell’s roofers working  5.5 metres above ground without fall protection equipment. The MOL levied a fine of $4500.
  • Nearly 2 years later, on October 7, 2015, Bell received a $10,000 fine and was sentenced to one day in jail after a MOL inspector observed one of his roofers working nearly eight metres above ground without any fall protection equipment.

No injuries were involved in each instance. However, Bell failed to comply with the following regulations:

  • Section 26.1(2) of Ontario’s Regulation 213/91 (the Construction Projects Regulation) states that a worker working at a height of more than three metres must wear an approved method of fall protection. 
  • Section 25(1)(c) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) states that an employer must ensure that regulations are followed on a project.

Comply with the OHSA & Protect Your Workers

Bell’s recent conviction demonstrates how seriously the Ministry of Labour takes OHSA violations. In June 2018, Ministry of Labour inspectors visited 707 construction projects and issued 2,158 orders and requirements under the OHSA and its regulations, including 191 stop work orders. The Ministry of Labour will continue to perform unannounced site visits to ensure organizations are operating in compliance with the OHSA and its regulations.

You should be prepared to demonstrate that your business is compliant during these inspections and at all times.  Not only does adhering to safety regulations allow you to avoid costly fines or jail time, but it also helps ensure the safety of your workers by preventing falls that lead to serious injuries, and even death.

Although construction only makes up only 8% of the Ontario workforce, it has the highest number of workers killed on the job. One of the greatest hazards in construction is falls from heights. In 2017, 10 people died as a result of falling from heights at a construction site. Working at Heights training, which is mandatory for certain workplaces under the OHSA helps workers understand the risks and proven practices to prevent falls. Working at Heights training has been shown to reduce lost-time claims by 21%.

If you aren’t sure if you are compliant with the OHSA and its regulations, we can help. Fill out the form below and we will contact you within one business day. You can also book Working at Heights Training online easily.

Written by Sydney Mansaray