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Building collapse victim reacts to fines levied against companies held responsible


One of the victims who was injured in the deadly Teeple Terrace building collapse on Dec. 11, 2020 said the fines against the companies involved don’t go far enough.

Jacob Hurl said it’s the workers who end up paying for the mistakes, and in some cases with their lives.

“People pave roads, people build buildings, people manufacture cars. Like the reason people have the life that they do is because of these workers. So I don’t really understand why we’re treated that way when we get hurt,” said Hurl.

Hurl was one of four workers critically injured at the construction site at 555 Teeple Terrace in London when part of the building collapsed while concrete was being poured. Two contractors lost their lives, 21-year-old John Martens and 26-year-old Henry Harder.

According to a news release from the Ministry of Labour, two Oxford County-based construction companies — iSpan Systems LP and East Elgin Concrete Forming Ltd — have been fined $400,000 for their role in the incident.

On Friday, the province announced that following guilty pleas under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, iSpan Systems LP was fined $260,000 and East Elgin Concrete Forming Ltd. was fined $140,000.

In addition, the court also imposed a 25 per cent victim fine surcharge, which assists victims of crime.

According to the province, “iSpan Systems LP (iSpan) failed to ensure that a building, structure or any part thereof, was capable of supporting any loads that may be applied to it,” while “East Elgin Concrete Forming Ltd. (East Elgin) failed to provide proper information, instruction and supervision, specifically on the use of proper concrete measuring techniques on the project.”

A section of a building under construction in London, Ont. collapsed on Friday, Dec. 11, 2020. (Source: Jade Doxtator)

“I think if they think it’s just going to be an easy fine to pay, why would they ever be worried about it?” questioned Hurl. “They make it as small as possible so they don’t have to pay out as much. The workers aren’t going to get a whole lot, and it’s kind of a shame that that’s the way it is,” he said.

According to Hurl, labour laws prohibit him from filing civil litigation in this case.

And when it comes to the investigation, he said he’s not allowed to issue a victim impact statement. But he said what’s most upsetting is that he believes the fines will do nothing to make Ontario job sites any safer overall.

“I think it’s kind of a knife in the back to every blue collar worker in this province,” he said. “I have a feeling that basically the Ontario government doesn’t seem to really care about you. Because if they did, they would actually punish these companies.”

Neither of the companies involved responded to requests for comment by the time of this article’s publication.

—With files from CTV London's Ashley Hyshka Top Stories

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