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January 15, 2013

Metron project manager will face criminal charges for 2009 swing stage deaths

Metron Construction project manager Vadim Kazenelson will face a criminal trial for the deaths of four workers and the serious injury of another on Dec. 24, 2009, ruled an Ontario court.

“We are delighted that the judge found sufficient evidence to send this case to criminal trial. Four workers are dead due to workplace negligence and, so far, not a single employer has gone to jail," said Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) president Sid Ryan. "Mr. Kazenelson had direct responsibility over these workers and he should be held to account for Metron's shameful failure to follow safety protocols."

Metron Construction supervisor Fayzullo Fazilov, along with Vladimir Korostin, Aleksey Blumberg and Alexander Bondorev, died on Christmas Eve 2009 after they fell 13 storeys when their swing-stage broke apart while working on a highrise apartment building at 2757 Kipling Ave. in Toronto.

A fifth worker, welder Dilshod Marupov, survived the fall, but suffered severe leg and spinal injuries. In October 2010, Toronto Police charged Metron, along with three Metron officials, Joel Swartz, Kazenelson and Benny Saigh, with criminal negligence.

In July 2012, Metron, a Toronto constructor, was fined $200,000 and convicted of criminal negligence causing death, the first conviction of its kind in the Ontario under the Criminal Code.

Metron director Swartz was fined $90,000 after pleading guilty to violations of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA).

Criminal charges against Swartz were dropped. He pleaded guilty to failing as a director to take all reasonable care to ensure that: workers did not use a defective or hazardous swing-stage; the swing-stage was not loaded in excess of the weight it was meant to bear; workers were adequately trained in the use of fall protection by a competent person; and that Metron Construction Corporation prepared and maintained written training and instruction records for each worker.

Swartz and Metron were convicted under: Ontario Regulation 213/91, Section 26.2(1); Ontario Regulation 213/91, Section 26.2(3); Ontario Regulation 213/91, Section 93(2)(a); and Ontario Regulation 213/91, Section 134(3).

Metron had faced fines of up to $1 million. The fine is currently being appeal by the Crown on the grounds that it is a "manifestly unfit" sentence, given the gravity of the tragedy, reports the OFL.

For more information on the swing-stage tragedy visit www.dcnonl.com.

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