On April 9. 2015, Andy Sokhan texted Gordon Graham saying that he thought that the crane that he was operating was dangerous. Graham, a supervisor for the construction company Forma-Con told Sokhan that if it the crane could be dangerous to use, it should be shut down.
The crane was being used to pour concrete at a construction site for a new library and community centre in Brampton on the Gore Road.
A week-and-a-half later, the defective crane was still in use. It tipped while lowering its boom, killing Mark Attallah. Mark was 40, a husband, a brother and father of two children. He was a member of Local 27 Carpenters Union and lived in Aurora.
There’s scant coverage of the tragedy. Mark’s name isn’t in any of the news reports. President of the Toronto and York Region Labour Council John Cartwright wrote a Facebook status to remember Mark, and three other workers who died that same month: William Cerqueira who fell three stories to his death and Luigi Cudini and Shane Jennings who fell five stories to their deaths.
On Nov. 27, 2017, fines were imposed on Forma-Con (1428508 Ontario Limited of Concord), Graham and Sokhan for various health and safety code infractions for continuing to use the faulty crane. Forma-con was fined $285,000, Graham was fined $15,000 and Sokhan was fined $13,000.
Brampton is ground zero for worker injury and death in Ontario. A CALM analysis of the 72 convictions delivered in 2017 by the Ministry of Labour show that workplace health and safety violations happened more in Brampton than any other city in Ontario. In 2017, 12 fines, including the three related to the death of Mark Attallah, were handed out for workplace injury, death or unpaid wages. That’s more than for infractions in all of Eastern Ontario.
The fines imposed during 2017 related to worker health and safety infractions serious enough to warrant fines, from between 2013 and 2017. In most cases, fines were imposed for injuries. The Ministry of Labour reported each fine, and included information about the circumstances of the death, like the circumstances of Attallah’s death.
The average fine given out in 2017 was $78,552. The largest fine was given to Fiera Foods, after Amina Diaby died when her hijab got caught in machinery. The conditions of working at Fiera Foods in Toronto were documented by Sara Mojtehedzadeh and Brendan Kennedy at the Toronto Star in a months-long undercover investigation. Fiera Foods was fined $300,000.
The largest fines for a health and safety violation where a worker was injured were given to three companies involved in another large public project: building the South West Detention Centre, located in Windsor. A worker was seriously burned in 2013. Three companies were fined a total of $460,000, including Toromont Industries, which was fined $210,000 of that amount.
Toromont Industries was also fined in another workplace accident in 2017, in London. A worker at their London location had their hand crushed. Toromont was fined $115,000 in that case. (Toromont was also fined $95,000 in 2011 when a worker hired through Toromont’s Cimco Refrigeration to work at Sobey’s Retail Support Centre in Whitby, suffered “severe head injuries and electrical burns” according to the Ministry of Labour).
One quarter of the fines were levied for health and safety violations at public worksites. Most were contracted to private companies doing the work, but in some cases, public entities were fined. This includes two mental health facilities where workers were stabbed by patients. The Ministry of Labour found that in both cases, not enough was done to prevent these events.
The Town of Innisfil, the City of Toronto and the Regional Municipality of Waterloo were all fined for health and safety violations.
The smallest fine levied for negligence causing death to a worker was just $10,000. William Witter, owner of a small business, was clearing lumber with the deceased worker at the time of the accident that killed him. The accident happened in Bruce County. The Owen Sound Times reported that the victim was 51-year-old Mark Fritz. His obituary says that he had nine grandchildren.
There were eight fines levied for injuries that were considered to be permanent. While the Ministry of Labour reports on some of the details of the event that caused injuries, in some cases, they mention that an injury required hospitalization, that an injury or injuries were critical, or permanent.