Unapproved forklift use by workers gets assistant manager in trouble

Assistant manager didn’t consent to lifting of wheelchair-bound worker on forklift but didn’t expressly ban it
By Jeffrey R. Smith
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 10/01/2012

An Ontario employer should not have fired a manager after employees carried out an unsafe activity on his watch, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice has ruled.

Kerry Barton, 67, was hired by Rona Ontario, a home renovations supplier, to be a zone manager in September 2005. In December 2005 Barton was appointed assistant store manager of a new Rona store in Barrie, Ont. Barton was responsible for managing the store’s employees and the safety of the workplace.

Rona’s employee handbook had several safety rules that employees must follow. These included having safety guards in place when operating machinery and no riders on forklifts or tractors. The company’s guidelines for conduct indicated that breaching the rules would result in discipline and possibly dismissal, if it was serious enough. Examples of serious breaches included failure to operate power equipment safely and deliberate acts that could endanger the safety of other people.