Construction company and supervisor both responsible for worker’s drowning

Employer fined $125,000 and supervisor $12,000 after overloaded boat capsizes

The Ontario Court of Justice has fined a construction company and one of its supervisors for an incident where a worker drowned after an overloaded boat capsized.

In December 2005, St. Catherines, Ont.-based T.R. Hinan Contractors Inc. was building a cottage on an island near Parry Sound, Ont. Some of the work was contracted out to another company while a supervisor from T.R. Hinan, Stephen Ruth, oversaw the project. Four workers and Ruth travelled to and from the island on a boat owned and provided by T.R. Hinan and operated by Ruth.

On Dec. 13, 2005, Ruth was taking the workers, who weren’t wearing life jackets, back to the mainland from the island. The workers and their tools exceeded the maximum carrying capacity of the boat by nearly 400 pounds and Ruth was running the boat at full throttle. He saw a layer of ice near the marina where they were headed and shifted into neutral. The boat decelerated quickly and the bow of the overloaded boat dipped down. When the boat’s wake hit, the bow went under water, tipping the boat. Three of the workers swam to shore but one drowned.

T.R. Hinan pled guilty under the Ontario

Occupational Health and Safety Act

and the

Regulations for Construction Projects

for failing, as an employer, to ensure the boat wasn’t overloaded and hazardous to the workers. The court fined the company $125,000.

Ruth also pled guilty under the act for not taking every reasonable precaution, as a supervisor, to ensure the boat wasn’t overloaded and unsafe for transportation of the workers. Ruth was personally fined $12,000 by the court.

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