Decision may spur authorities to hold organizations accountable for workplace deaths

Quebec Appeal Court decision underlines need to implement robust workplace safety measures, say experts

An appeal by a Quebec City company that was found guilty of criminal negligence causing the death of one of its workers was dismissed by the Quebec Court of Appeal in a “very important” decision that may spur law enforcement officials and Crown prosecutors across the country to be more aggressive and hold to account organizations and decision-makers for workplace deaths, according to legal experts.

In one of the few appellate court decisions in the country that has examined the criminal liability of organizations, the Quebec Appeal Court clarified the use and scope of the so-called Westray bill or Bill C-45, particularly section 217.1 of the Criminal Code, held that any evidence, including circumstantial evidence, during the period preceding the indictment is admissible, and that victim’s statements reported by witnesses is allowed so long as it is used for narrative rather than adjudicative purposes, noted legal pundits.

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