Canadian Safety Reporter
Oct 13, 2010

Criminal charges laid in deaths of 4 construction workers

Three individuals, employer charged under corporate killing law

Toronto police have laid criminal charges against three individuals and a company in the deaths of four construction workers.

The four men fell to their deaths on Christmas Eve 2009 after the scaffolding gave way at a Toronto highrise apartment where they were working.

Vadim Kazenelson, 35, of Gormley, Ont.; Joel Swartz, 51, of Toronto; and Benny Saigh, 52, of Toronto and Metron Construction Company have each been charged with:

•criminal negligence causing bodily harm

•four counts of criminal negligence causing death

The accused, who have surrendered to police, are scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 13 at 2 p.m.

Criminal charges have been an option for police in health and safety crimes since 2004, when the federal government passed Bill C-45, also known as the corporate killing law, in the wake of the 1992 Westray mine disaster that killed 26 workers in Nova Scotia. But the law has barely been touched since it was put on the books.

Sid Ryan, president of the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL), said the charges the “signal to employers that we have been waiting for.”

“Today’s charges mean the carnage in Ontario workplaces is finally being brought under control. The stakes have been raised and now employers also have something very real to lose.”

The OFL pointed out that, unlike charges under occupational health and safety laws, criminal code sentences do not place any maximum on financial penalities. Individuals found guilty can receive life sentences of up to 20 years in prison.

Since C-45 was passed, more than 400 workers in Ontario have been killed at work and more than 1.5 million injured, according to the OFL.

“(The criminal charge) says to every CEO and manager that workers' deaths are serious matters with real penalties attached and that they had better take safety seriously," said Ryan. “We expect to see the full weight of the law brought to bear in this case.”

Killed in the accident were Fayzullo Fazilov, 31; Aleksey Blumberg, 33; Alexander Bondorev, 25; and Vladimir Korostin, 40. Dilshod Marupov, 21, survived the accident but suffered broken legs and a shattered spine, said Ryan.

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