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Hefty fine for auto dealer after door lands on worker's legs

Canadian Press THE CANADIAN PRESS

ESTERHAZY, Sask. — A Saskatchewan auto dealership has been fined $35,000 after a service bay door came down on an employee and fractured both of his legs.

The accident at Esterhazy Ford Sales Ltd. happened last August as the worker was attempting to close the door.

The Carlyle company, which was operating in Esterhazy at the time, was charged under Occupational Health and Safety legislation.

The business pleaded guilty in Esterhazy provincial court on Tuesday under a section of the legislation that deals with ensuring the safety of a workplace.

The company was fined $25,000 with a $10,000 surcharge.

In an interview with AdvocateDaily.com, Toronto licensing and compliance lawyer Anar Dewshi says the Ministry of Labour has the authority to initiate a prosecution against an employer for a contravention of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), the regulations, or for failing to comply with an order of an inspector, a director or the minister, under s. 66(1).

“If convicted, a court may impose a fine and/or jail term against an individual defendant,” says Dewshi, principal of Dewshi Law Practice. “The maximum fine per charge for an individual is $25,000 and/or imprisonment for up to 12 months. As noted in s. 66(1) and 66(2), the maximum fine, which can be imposed on a corporation convicted of an offence, is $500,000 per charge.”

Dewshi says dealers are obligated under the legislation to ensure they provide their staff with a safe and healthy workplace.

“It is the responsibly of an employer to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker,” she says.

While no safety violation fines were laid against auto dealers in 2016, 2017, or so far in 2018, in February of this year, she says a mining company was fined $70,000 when a dump truck tipped over and injured a worker.

In the Saskatchewan case, Dewshi says the penalty would have been stiffer if the employee suffered critical injuries.

“For example, an Ontario manufacturer was fined $60,000 when a worker suffered critical injuries while using an angle grinder,” she says.

Dewshi says court bulletins reporting on some OHSA conviction outcomes can be viewed by the public on the Government of Ontario website, thereby making employers accountable in the public sphere.

© 2018 The Canadian Press

— with files from AdvocateDaily.com

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