07/02/2014 02:02 EDT | Updated 09/01/2014 05:59 EDT

Public Works avoids probation in boiler explosion sentence

Public Works and Government Services Canada received fines totalling $300,000 for its role in a 2009 boiler explosion that killed one worker and injured two others but won't be put on probation, a judge ruled Wednesday.

Peter Kennedy, a shift supervisor at the Cliff Central Heating and Cooling Plant, died after the Oct. 19, 2009 explosion burst open a boiler at a Public Works heating plant just west of Parliament Hill.

The federal government department pleaded guilty in 2012 to three violations of federal health and safety laws.

The violations were failing to provide necessary health and safety training for the operation of a boiler, failing to adequately train supervisors and managers in health and safety issues, and failing to develop a program for the prevention of workplace hazards.

At its sentencing Wednesday, Justice David Paciocco said the department must pay $100,000 for each of the three counts, but stopped short of putting the department on probation.

Public Works to pay for new training program

Had he imposed probation on the department, Public Works would have been more stringently monitored to make sure it obeys health and safety laws in the future.

Public Works had opposed probation, and said in its defence it has already spent $76 million to restore the Cliff plant and $100,000 for a new training program at the plant.

As well, the plant now follows the more rigorous safety standards of the province of Ontario.

Paciocco said while he wasn't placing the department on probation, he said when it comes to health and safety, the culture of the institution needs to change.

Kennedy, 51, was the shift supervisor on Oct. 19, 2009 when one of the five steam boilers shut off unexpectedly around noon. He pushed the button to restart the boiler and there was an explosion. He suffered burns to 60 per cent of his body and two others were also burned.

The charges against the department stemmed from the investigation carried out by Bruce McKeigan, a health and safety officer at Labour Canada who was the primary investigator.

McKeigan said he was shocked when he realized that first line supervisors didn’t know the first thing about most of the health and safety rules.

In this case, no individuals, workers or managers were ever singled out, fired or punished. Instead, the entire department took the blame.