Ministry of Labour lawyers say the City of London should pay $400,000 for its part in the death of a young worker in 2018, who died after being hit by a train in 2018 while operating a snowplow clearing city sidewalks.
Lawyers representing the city say the fine would be excessive and asked for a penalty closer to $200,000.
Malcolm Trudell, 26, died in January 2018 when he was struck by a CN train on Colborne Street near York Street. He was working for WeeBee Contracting, a sub-contractor for Jackson Pools, which had been hired by the city to clear sidewalks. WeeBee Contracting and Jackson Pools both pleaded guilty for the charges they faced under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
The City of London pleaded not guilty but was found liable at trial for not ensuring that Trudell was properly trained by the contractors and for failing to take necessary precautions to ensure his safety.
“I want to emphasize that any fine recommended against the city of London is of course not intended to put a monetary value on Malcolm Trudell’s life, and the Crown is not suggesting that fines are reflections of the tragic loss of life, or the pain and suffering endured by Mr. Trudell’s family and friends,” Madeleine Chin-Yee, the lawyer working for the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development, told the court.
‘Sending a message’
“We are dealing here with the worst kind of harm possible: A young worker has been killed, his death is a terrible loss to his family, his friends, his partner and the London community. No amount of fine can begin to compensate for the loss of life, but it’s a factor that the court should consider.”
WeeBee Contracting was fined $15,000 plus a 25 per cent victim fine surcharge, while Jackson Pools has been fined $60,000 plus a 25 per cent victim surcharge.
The $400,000 fine for the City of London would send a message to the city and other employers that they must take worker safety seriously, Chin-Yee said.
“There should be a higher burden on public authorities that make laws to comply with laws. The government should be a role model for industries and must be seen to follow the law,” she said.
In her guilty ruling, Justice of the Peace Susan Hoffman found the City of London didn’t take worker safety seriously.
Training was ‘totally lacking’
Trudell had only worked five shifts, only had a G1 license, and was working alone when he was hit by the train. He’d been working for close to 12 hours and had been awake for almost 24 hours.
“There was absolutely no evidence to suggest that the City of London did anything to ensure the health and safety of the young worker after it contracted out its sidewalk maintenance in 2015,” Chin-Yee told the court.
“Mr. Trudell’s instruction and training was totally lacking and inadequate and the the city didn’t offer training or make any effort to satisfy itself that any training had been provided to the young worker.”
John McNair, the city’s lawyer, said Trudell effectively had three employers at the time of his death, and the city doesn’t “owe a higher duty” than the other two employers.
“The penalty needs to be linked to contravening the Occupational Health and Safety Act, not for causing the death of this young man,” he said.
The city also took steps to address the problems found during the trial, he added.
“The fine against the city shouldn’t be in a range that suggests that the city’s culpability is somehow greater than the other defendants, or that it was more culpable than the parties who actually recruited and paid the deceased worker.”
Chin-Yee said the city’s move to clean up its act, three years after Trudell died and a year after it was found guilty, “ought not to be rewarded” because there was such a significant time lag.
Hoffman will deliver her sentencing decision at a later date.