WORKPLACE SAFETY: ANOTHER CRIMINAL CODE PROSECUTION
J. Bruce McMeekin
For the third time, police have laid Bill C-45 Criminal Code charges arising
from a workplace fatality. Millennium Crane Rentals of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario,
along with two individuals, have been charged with criminal negligence
In April, 2009, a City of Sault Ste. Marie employee, James Vecchio, was crushed when a crane collapsed
into the excavated hole in which he was working. The City was undertaking sewer work at the city
landfill when the accident occurred.
The Criminal Code workplace duty of care was enacted in 2004 by Bill C-45. It requires every employer
who undertakes or directs work to take reasonable steps to prevent bodily harm to any employee or any
other person arising from that work. The criminally negligent breach of the duty of care causing death
is an indictable offence punishable by a maximum sentence of life imprisonment and/or unlimited fines.
When a criminally negligent breach causes bodily harm, the maximum penalty is 10 years imprisonment
and/or unlimited fines.
Thus far, the C-45 provision has been used on only two occasions. In 2004, a supervisor with a small
Newmarket, Ontario, construction company was charged when a trench collapsed causing fatal
injuries to a worker. However, the C-45 charge was withdrawn when the supervisor pleaded guilty to
parallel provincial Occupational Health and Safety Act (“OHSA”) charges. In 2008, a Transpavé, a
Quebec paving stone manufacturer, pleaded guilty to criminal negligence causing the death of one of
its employees and was fined $100,000.
Millennium Crane is also charged with five offences contrary to the OHSA. The crane operator is
charged with one OHSA count. Each charge laid under the OHSA against the company is subject to
a $500,000 fine, in addition to an automatic 25 per cent victim impact surcharge. The maximum fine
for the individual is $25,000 per charge, plus the surcharge.
In comparison to the OHSA and oth