The professional engineer who last inspected and approved the roof and parking structure at the centre of last summer’s Elliot Lake mall collapse has been charged under Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act(OHSA).
The Canadian Press is reporting that Ontario’s Ministry of Labour has charged the Sault Ste Marie-based engineer with two counts under the OHSA: the first, under section 31(2), holds architects and engineers liable for advice or certification that is given negligently or incompetently. The second relates to working in a manner that could endanger workers.
The maximum penalty on conviction is a fine of up to $25,000 and/or up to 12 months imprisonment, per count.
In June 2012, the roof of the Algo Centre Mall in Elliot Lake – which doubled as the Mall’s parking lot – collapsed, killing two women and causing dozens of injuries. A public inquiry into the case has been underway for several weeks, and media in attendance at those proceedings have reported that concerns about the structural integrity of the roof and parkade were raised prior to the accident.
Charges against architects and engineers under section 31(2) of the OHSA are rare, but not unheard of. Recent examples include:
- In R. v. EFCO Canada Co. (2010), an in-house engineer was convicted after the court concluded that he had provided design plans for falsework on a bridge support that were incapable of supporting the bridge’s load. The bridge, located over the 18 Mile River near the town of Lucknow, Ontario, collapsed, injuring six workers.
- In Ontario (Ministry of Labour) v. Nor Eng Construction & Engineering Inc. et al. (2008), two engineers were acquitted of OHSA charges after the collapse of a Sudbury overpass. The court found that the collapse itself was not proof of negligence in the overpass design.