In what some are saying is a first in Ontario, Paul Markewycz, the owner of Brampton-based Roofing Medics Ltd., will not only have to cough up more than $50,000 in fines, but he will also have to spend 15 days in jail, after he and his company pleaded guilty to having violated Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act for an accident in which a worker fell from a from a Toronto residence and was killed.
The accident occurred on August 16, 2011, as three Roofing Medics employees and Mr. Markewycz were working on a new roofing project in Toronto. One worker was standing on a ladder as he installed a roofing membrane, when he lost his balance and fell nearly six metres, striking a fence on the way down. The worker was wearing fall protection equipment at the time, but it was unattached to anything.
Markewycz took the worker to hospital, where about an hour later, he was pronounced dead. The hospital then asked York Regional Police to help them identify the dead worker, and police subsequently called Markewycz, who told them the dead worker fell while he was helping to install roof vents at the Markewycz home in Brampton.
The coroner told an inspector with the Ontario Ministry of Labour about the incident, after which he and two other MoL inspectors conducted a thorough investigation. In addition, Peel Regional Police also investigated the “worksite” over eight days.
However, exactly one week after the incident, Markewycz and his counsel came clean. They met with two Ministry inspectors, when he told them the incident had not occurred at his residence in Brampton, after all, but instead occurred at a worksite in Toronto.
Because of the deception, Roofing Medics Ltd. failed to notify an inspector of the fatality immediately, and they also failed to send a written report of the accident to a the Ministry within 48 hours of the occurrence, as required by law. The false information also caused the Ministry to expend significant resources on a wild goose chase.
Roofing Medics Ltd. pleaded guilty to failing as an employer to ensure safety measures were carried out as required, as well as failing to notify an inspector of an occurrence within 48 hours, as required by the OH&S Act.
In addition, Markewycz pleaded guilty to failing as a supervisor to ensure that a worker works with the protective devices required by law and pleaded guilty to knowingly furnishing an inspector with false information.
The fine of $50,000 and the sentence of 15 days in jail were imposed by Ontario Provincial Court Justice C. Ann Nelson. In addition, the court imposed a 25-per-cent victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act.
This time, the owner was hit with $62,500 in fines and gets to think about the accident from a jail cell for 15 days. In this case, safety wouldn’t have cost, it would have paid.