The widow, Sylvia Tkach, says she is disappointed with the decision and believes that any fine amount needs to be greater in the province. “I don’t think they are high enough in Saskatchewan and they are not providing a deterrent,” she says. “It is not enough of a deterrent to change behaviours,” she argues.
Robert Tkach, age 60, was driving a jeep-like vehicle underground at Potash Corp’s Lanigan mine, located near the town bearing its name, when the vehicle went over the edge of an unguarded ramp and rolled.
Potash Corp. was originally charged with four other counts:
3. Failing to ensure that a supervisor complies with the OHSA and related regulations; and
All the charges against the company and supervisor were withdrawn following the company’s guilty plea, confirms Potash Corp. spokesperson Bill Johnson. “There has certainly been some pretty significant changes to our practices” since the incident, he adds, pointing to a government review which identified a number of areas where improvements can be made.
This not the first time Potash Corp. was disciplined for a death in the workplace. In 1998, Potash Corp. was levied the maximum, (back then it was the maximum) of $300,000, without a victim fine surcharge.
In this case, Ontario law would have prevented the company from operating the unit with a ‘Stop Work’ order. This type of order commits the company to make the necessary changes before any further work has been done.
In closing, Robert Tkach’s widow made a strong case for future fines. “In cases like this where a company deals with a repeat conviction, fines should be increased accordingly.”
As a health and safety trainer in Ontario, I would suggest an increase in fines as a form of progressive discipline would have been the case here in Ontario. In fact, I know so. I’ve never reviewed a case in Ontario where the Ontario MOL dropped all the charges to drive a guilty plea. That is definitely saying, “We will pay the fine but we do not admit guilt.”
Remember — In Canada, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”
担iel L. Beal