Electrical contractor fined $500,000 over shoddy work that led to senior’s death

Though the electrical contractor in this case was licensed, he had not followed the rules the ESA set out.
Though the electrical contractor in this case was licensed, he had not followed the rules the ESA set out. (Photo: iStock)

Coinciding with the National Day of Mourning being observed today is a tragic case that should reinforce safety issues, not only for workers but also consumers.

An Ontario court recently slapped an electrical contractor with a $537,500 fine for a poor job installing an in-floor heating system that led to the death of an elderly man. This is apparently the biggest fine an electrical contractor has ever incurred in Ontario.

The man fell on the overheated floor of his bathroom in his Niagara, Ont. in April 2014, and suffered second and third degree burns which led to his death a few weeks later.

The Electrical Safety Authority, an administrative body created by the government for the purpose of protecting the electrical safety of consumers in Ontario, investigated the work the contractor did after the man’s death and found that not only had no floor heat sensor been installed but also that the system was wired to an incorrect voltage level.

The contractor was charged and pleaded guilty to three charges, which included leaving an unsafe electrical condition.

The ESA issued a press release after the court handed down the unprecedented fine stating, “we are terribly saddened by this incident and it underscores how dangerous electrical work can be when it's not done properly.”

So what should you look out for when hiring an electrical contractor?

  • Don’t hire an electrical contractor who is not licensed with the appropriate electrical safety authority of your province or territory;
  • If your province or territory has a “consumer beware list”, like the Ontario Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, make sure to check the name of the electrical contractor you want to hire in that list to see if there are any outstanding complaints against him or her.
  • Confirm with the contractor(s) that they are arranging for the appropriate permits and inspections required by the electrical safety authority of your province or territory;
  • Ask for a certificate of inspection when the work is done and before you pay your final bill.

Though the electrical contractor in this case was licensed, he had not followed the rules the ESA set out.

You can never be too safe when hiring an electrical contractor, as it’s important to remember that just one bad wire could cause a fire.

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