Joel Swartz leaves court after an appearance for a December 2009 scaffold collapse in Toronto that killed four men.
Credits: MICHAEL PEAKE/QMI AGENCY
Instead, the OFL says Metron Construction and its owner and director, Joel Swartz, received a "minor slap on the wrist" by Judge Robert Bigelow when they were fined a total of $342,500 under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
Crown attorney Ann Morgan had asked for a $1 million for the company.
"I think this was a disgraceful ruling," OFL spokesman Sid Ryan said.
Swartz was fined $22,500 for each of four counts under the act. After a 25% victim surcharge, he stands to pay a total of $112,500.
Bigelow sentenced Metron to a total fine of $230,000.
"It essentially means that, in this province, a life is worth $50,000," Ryan said, adding the OFL had hoped Swartz would receive jail time.
"I believe they (businesses) will look upon this as they have always looked upon it when it comes to health and safety, that this is the cost of doing business in Ontario," he said.
Swartz did not appear in person at the sentencing.
Attorney Jay Naster issued a statement on behalf of Swartz and Metron, saying the Ottawa-based manufacturer that provided the "defective swing stage" was not without blame.
"For reasons we will never know, the workers, including the site supervisor, all of whom were trained and experienced, and knew better, decided to assume a risk that had tragic consequences," he said.
According to the OFL, 80 workers are killed on average each year in Ontario, and 250,000 workplace injuries are sustained on an annual basis.
The 2009 Christmas Eve collapse saw five workers fall 13 storeys from a swing stage as they were working on a Metron Construction project.
Aleksey Blumberg, Vladimir Korostin, Alexander Bondorev and Fayzullo Fazilov were killed while Dilshod Marupov sustained serious injuries.
The OFL issued a statement Friday afternoon calling on the Crown to appeal the sentence.
"If the judge had concerns about Metron owner Joel
Swartz's ability to pay the million-dollar fine sought by the Crown, he should have done the right thing and thrown Swartz in jail," Ryan said.
Current legal action against Metron project manager Vadim Kazenelso is expected to proceed into the fall.