School board fined nearly $350,000 for fatal explosion
Ottawa’s Catholic school board must pay nearly $275,000 in fines for a violation that led to the May 2011 death of a high school student.
Ontario’s Ministry of Labour said the death of Eric Leighton happened after a flammable cleaner was used to wash a barrel that was to be cut in shop class.
The barrel was closed with caps on before it was cut, which the province said caused flammable vapours to build up inside.
Leighton, a 18-year-old Mother Teresa High School student, was killed in an explosion May 26, 2011 while cutting the barrel to make a barbeque.
His family said the fines were a slap on the wrist for the board.
"It was an automotive class, they should have been doing brakes, working on engines, exhaust, not building barbecues," said his father Patrick Leighton.
The board pled guilty to the non-criminal charge of "failing, as an employer, to provide information, instruction and supervision to the teacher concerning safe work practices and recognition of the hazards associated with the class project."
"Going to trial was not in anyone's best interest," said Julian Hanlon, the board's Director of Education. "We hope that this will provide some closure to the families."
The fine is being given under the Occupational Health and Safety Act; it's divided into a $275,000 fine and an additional 25 per cent (about $68,750) payment to a provincial crime victim fund.
Patrick Leighton said he hopes this isn't the last step taken by the province.
"I'm hoping there's going to be an inquest, with an inquest we'll get more answers but people have to answer for their things,"he said.
"Right now i feel $275,000 is pocket change, it's not a big fine - my liability on this house is $2 million."
With a report from CTV Ottawa's Vanessa Lee