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Quebec 2008 – R. v. Transpavé

Fatal Accident

  • Employee fatally crushed by a pallet loader’s grappling hook.
  • The worker was trying to clear excess blocks from a pallet remaining on a truck after a jam occurred.

Criminal proceedings instituted in the Court of Quebec against Transpavé Inc. No charges were filed against the company’s officers.

Transpavé pled guilty to the charge of criminal negligence causing death.

Judge’s Findings

  • The employer breached its duty of foresight. The company should have ANTICIPATED the risks.
  • It was Transpavé’s duty to find the cause of previous jams and correct the problem.
  • The company breached its DUTY OF EFFECTIVENESS by failing to implement appropriate safety measures to mitigate the risks of accidents.
  • The company had a DUTY TO APPROPRIATELY TRAIN its employees.
  • The company breached its DUTY OF AUTHORITY by not ensuring that its employees comply with the safety rules in place.

Mitigating and Aggravating Factors Taken Into Consideration by the Judge

Mitigating Factors

  1. Transpavé did not benefit from this infraction.
  2. Transpavé had no previous similar criminal or regulatory convictions.
  3. Once the event occurred, Transpavé did not try to conceal any aspects of the tragedy.
  4. Transpavé invested $750,000 in occupational health and safety improvements between its conviction and sentencing.

Aggravating Factors

  1. A person died.
  2. The company’s sound financial health: This is relevant because the Criminal Code does not allow for an organization to be fined in a way that imperils its economic viability and, as a result, the jobs of hundreds of employees.

The parties come to an agreement and propose a fine of $100,000 to the judge

The judge approves the parties’ suggestion, considering it appropriate in light of all the mitigating circumstances and, especially, in view of the company’s proactive $750,000 investment in occupational health and safety.

To this, the judge also adds a victim fine surcharge of $10,000.

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