Five workers employed by Metron Construction fell more than 100 feet to the ground when the swing stage they were working on suddenly collapsed. None of those workers was attached to a lifeline as required both by law and industry practice. Four workers died and the fifth was seriously injured.
Vadim Kazenelson, the project manager was found guilty of four counts of criminal negligence causing death and one count of criminal negligence causing bodily injury. On January 11, 2016, he was sentenced to a precedent setting three-and-a-half years in prison.
Court documents detail that “Mr. Kazenelson was on top of workplace issues, that he monitored what was going on and that he exercised his authority over workers when necessary. One worker testified that if Mr. Kazenelson had caught him working on a swing stage without being tied off to a lifeline he would have been fired.”
The project manager was with the workers at the time of the collapse. When he asked the supervisor about the absence of lifelines, the supervisor replied “don’t worry about it”. In this instance, the Project Manager did nothing to rectify the situation and enforce safety procedures. All the safety procedures and enforcement measures he had taken in the past were irrelevant to the dead workers and to the court.
STEPS TO TAKE TO EFFECTIVELY LEAD SAFETY IN YOUR WORKPLACE:
- Review your Critical Task list and define your ‘SAFETY NON NEGOTIABLES”. As the Metron Construction Manager found out, remember that it’s easier to be true to them 100% of the time than 98% of the time.
- Review and revise your Critical Safety Work Procedures accordingly.
- Ensure Supervisors have the proper training, experience and authority for the work being performed.
- Revisit your Disciplinary Action and Enforcement Policies and Procedures.
- Remember that workers don’t care so much what and how they are supposed to “do stuff”; they care WHY they are supposed to do it. Train the WHY, Train the WHY, Train the WHY. (We care about you and you must go home at the end of the day to your family).
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Safety Leadership Event of the Year: Recognizing the important of effective workplace safety management for all Manitoba employers, The Manitoba Chambers of Commerce in partnership with 1Life Workplace Safety Solutions present Safety Leadership: Effective Safety & Health Risk Management.
Norm Keith, LLM CRSP, Partner, Fasken Martineau, Canada’s leading OHS defence lawyer, will cover the essential aspects of the Metron case, and provide recommendations to use in your organization to not only avoid a similar tragedy, but to help foster your organizations’ safety performance.