SAFETY HERO OF THE WEEK:
Andrea Dunkle, Put Her Job on the Line to Promote Safety
In 2006, government OHS officer Andrea Dunkle conducted a special investigation of the Saskatoon Correctional Centre. The report she issued detailed conditions of violence, harassment and other safety violations.
At Ms. Dunkle’s urging the Ministry of Labour Relations pursued a notice of contravention against the facility. But the executive director of the OHS branch overturned the notice. Ms. Dunkle disagreed with the decision and urged her colleagues to help her appeal but was told by her supervisors that she didn’t have the legal authority to bring an appeal. When Ms. Dunkle refused to let the case drop, she was fired for insubordination.
Ms. Dunkle sued the Ministry. On Feb. 3, Court of Queen’s Bench Chief Justice ruled that Ms. Dunkle did, in fact, have the right to pursue the appeal and ordered the Ministry to reinstate her. This Tuesday, Andrea Dunkle returned to work.
On a personal level, Ms. Dunkle’s courage, resolution and dedication to principles of workplace safety are worthy of great admiration. The fact that her position was vindicated in a court of law gives her story a satisfying resolution.
However, the Dunkle case raises concerns about the current OHS system. If it takes the character and gumption of an Andrea Dunkle to get the government to carry out its role of chasing after employers who don’t obey the OHS laws, we’re all in trouble. After all, individuals like Ms. Dunkle are few and far-between.
SAFETY BUM OF THE WEEK:
Antonio Mastronardi, Corrupt WSIB Official Sentenced to 9 Months
This week’s Safety Bum is also a government safety official—but one of a distinctly different character.
On Feb. 4, former WSIB accounts advisor Antonio Mastronardi was sentenced to 9 months in prison for accepting $45,350 in kickbacks in 2001. Mr. Mastronardi took the money, $40,000 of it in cash and the rest in free car repairs, from a Vaughn, ON, drywall construction company in exchange for promising to get the firm a cut in its workers’ compensation rates.
Mr. Mastronardi kept his end of the deal by manipulating WSIB rate group reclassification rules to get the firm into a lower paying group. The scam cost the WSIB $129,281 in lost revenue.
WSIB’s current financial problems are well documented. Antonio Mastronardi clearly didn’t create these problems. But the fact that he was able to carry on such a scheme unchecked certainly does little to inspire confidence in WSIB’s financial management systems.