The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) pled guilty to a safety violation and agreed to pay $300,000 in fines in the 2017 death of 18-year employee Tom Dedes at its McCowan Yard.
In a statement, TTC CEO Rick Leary said the agency failed to “provide a trained and qualified SRT workcar monitor at the McCowan Yard to observe the movement of the workcar, while in direct communication with the workcar operator, to ensure the workcar did not make contact with workers, vehicles, or equipment.”
The TTC agreed to pay a fine of $265,000, plus the 25% victim fine surcharge of $66,250. Two other charges, also laid under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, were withdrawn by the Crown after the agency’s guilty plea.
“By resolving the charges in this manner, the parties have eliminated the need for a lengthy and costly trial,” said Leary. “More importantly, avoiding a trial in this matter will hopefully allow the family and colleagues of Mr. Dedes to continue the healing process.”
In October 2017, Dedes was injured when he was pinned against a truck he and other employees were unloading by the tail swing of a workcar at the TTC's McCowan yard. Nine days later, his family decided to take him off of life support, according to a CBC news report.
Following the tragedy, the TTC conducted a thorough investigation “with a view to ensuring this type of incident never occurs again,” said Leary. As a result, a number of initiatives have been implemented at the McCowan Yard, including upgrades to lighting, visual markings and an engineered barrier around the track area, and retraining of its employees to be vigilant when walking and working in areas with moving equipment. The agency also implemented measures and procedures for the workcar operator to communicate with a foreperson and Transit Control, to verify clearances around the vehicle and confirm it is safe to move it.
“I will be reaching out to the President of ATU Local 113 to share my belief that all workplace parties have specific responsibilities for ensuring the health and safety of every worker,” said Leary. “Everyone, from myself and TTC executives to our managers and supervisors to our frontline employees, has a role to play in promoting and being accountable for a culture of workplace safety.”