Why was this roofer’s life worth so little?

$50,000 was the price they put on a roofer’s life.
He fell to his death from a ladder on a residential homeowner’s renovation job site. He lost his balance and fell about six meters and struck a fence. The fall protection equipment he wore was no use to him, as it was not attached to anything at the time of the fall.
If that were your son, your brother, your dad, how would you feel about it? The $50,000 was the measly fine received by the contractor who hired this unfortunate soul. The site super, meanwhile, got 15 days in jail. 
Jail imageBig deal, I say – it’s nowhere near enough for someone’s life. Nowhere near enough for the wife, the kids, the family. This man went to work as normal on an August morning this summer and did not return that night. Think about this and consider – what if this was your last day? 
The sentence and fine were handed down by the court on Nov. 21. This means the supervisor will be out of jail ten days from now –  in time to spend Christmas with his family. I’m sure it’ll be a tough time for him, as well. I’m also sure he was not aware of the weaknesses in his company’s Safety Policy & Procedures. 
I’ve met many supervisors who are not aware of the implications of the position they hold. Many companies out there don’t even take the safety precautions that this roofing company had taken under the Occupational Health & Safety Act. Yet they still got prosecuted.
If you are reading this and have no Policies & Procedures (P&P), including an Internal Reporting System or an Emergency Rescue Procedure, maybe it’s time you did. Read Little Black Box article. A P&P is a written plan that has to be tailored to your company specific profile. 
During an investigation, the Ministry of Labour’s job is to investigate, find fault and prosecute. And if you don’t tell the whole truth, they’ll find out and it’ll come back and bite you. I could easily print that company’s name and the name of the supervisors, but it’s already up on the Ontario Ministry of Labour’s website: Read Ministry of Labour bulletin November 22.
Upon investigation, the MOL  inspectors found that this company did not notify a ministry inspector immediately of the fatality, nor did they send a written report of the circumstances of the occurrence to a director of the ministry within 48 hours of the occurrence, as required by law. Make your policies as tight as you can, as you never know the day you’ll need them in your defense.

Policy & Procedures ImageContact Monica NOW: Toll free 1-866-366-2930 or email at: monica@carahs.org for information on updating or getting your own Policies & Procedures in place. 

CARAHS is a non profit association for renovators and home services providers. We offer education, information and benefits.

CARAHS offers over 90 Health and Safety e-courses online here.

READ THIS ARTICLE at the Canadian Contractor online magazine and sign up for their FREE weekly email newsletter

Leave a comment