Even Careless, Reckless Workers Protected By OHSA: Ontario Court


A Justice of the Peace has reaffirmed that Ontario’s safety laws are intended to protect not only safe workers, but also workers who make mistakes, are careless or are reckless.

A steel beam that was temporarily welded to a pile broke free and fell on a worker while another pile was being vibrated into place.

The company argued that the welder had used the wrong type of weld, and that the company reasonably believed that the welder would use the correct weld – a “full” weld.

Justice of the Peace Mackey stated:

“What Deep Foundations, and all other employers must remember on a daily basis is, and the Spanway Buildings decision says it well, that ‘workplace safety regulations . . . are intended to prevent workplace accidents that arise when workers make mistakes, are careless, or are even reckless.’ No one is expected to be perfect, but an employer has a responsibility to be on top of the safety of their employees, and not just by going through the motions of manuals and training.”

The court found that the employer failed to take the reasonable precaution of having a professional engineer provide the requirements for welding where one and/or more pile was tack welded while another pile was being driven.

Ministry of Labour v. Deep Foundations Contractors Inc., 2012 ONCJ 701 (CanLII)

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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