OHS Canada Magazine

Ontario Court of Appeal upholds reduction of fine against Toromont in electrical explosion

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December 6, 2023
By OHS Canada

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The Ontario Court of Appeal has rejected a motion by the Crown to appeal a ruling that reduced a penalty in an electrical explosion that seriously injured a worker.

The case originated from an incident on a construction project at the Southwest Detention Centre in Windsor, Ont., where a worker, employed by Toromont Industries Ltd. and subcontracted to J.M.R. Electric Ltd., suffered severe burns. This occurred while the worker was cleaning an energized switchgear cabinet with a paintbrush containing a metal band, which acted as a conductor.

After having worked on de-energized cabinets, on returning from his lunch break, the worker inadvertently opened the wrong cabinet to clean, causing his paint brush to come into contact with live input stabs at the rear of the cabinet. The work was being performed in a high-voltage electrical room to which the door had, at times, been propped open, permitting access by various tradespeople.

Following the incident, both Toromont and J.M.R. faced charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act for various safety violations. The original trial resulted in both companies being found guilty and fined.

However, on appeal, the Ontario Court of Justice reversed this decision, concluding that the Crown had not established the actus reus (guilty act) of the offences.


This led to a subsequent appeal, where the court partially allowed the appeal, finding actus reus on specific counts against both companies. These findings were then sent back to the Ontario Court of Justice for reconsideration of due diligence and penalty issues.

The Ontario Court of Justice, in a second appeal, ruled in favor of the companies on the due diligence issue and significantly reduced the penalty for Toromont — from $170,000 to $35,000.

The Crown, unsatisfied with this outcome, sought leave to appeal to the Ontario Court of Appeal, primarily challenging the due diligence analysis and the reduced penalty for Toromont.

The Court of Appeal, however, found that the issues raised by the Crown did not meet the stringent criteria for granting leave to appeal under Section 131 of the Provincial Offences Act. The court indicated that the alleged errors were confined to claims of misapplication of established legal principles, rather than raising issues of statutory interpretation or general legal principles needing clarification.

In its detailed analysis, the Court of Appeal addressed each of the Crown’s points, finding that they either did not warrant intervention or had been sufficiently addressed in previous judgments.

As a result, the motion for leave to appeal was dismissed, and no costs were awarded. For more information, see Ontario (Labour) v. Bondfield Construction Company Limited, 2023 ONCA 813 (CanLII).


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