TTC faces workplace safety charges in death of track worker

The provincial government has charged the TTC with violating provincial safety regulations in the death of a track worker last fall, the Star has learned.

The transit agency has been charged with three offences under the Occupational Health and Safety Act in relation to the Oct. 1, 2017, incident that killed Tom Dedes, according to a summons from the ministry dated Sept. 24, 2018.

Tom Dedes, an 18-year veteran at the TTC, died in hospital after being injured in a workplace accident Oct. 1, 2017.
Tom Dedes, an 18-year veteran at the TTC, died in hospital after being injured in a workplace accident Oct. 1, 2017.  (BRAD ROSS / TWITTER)

The maximum amount an employer can be fined for violating the act is $500,000 per count, plus a 25 per cent surcharge. A hearing on the charges is scheduled for Oct. 25 at Old City Hall.

TTC spokesperson Brad Ross said in an emailed statement that the transit agency “will respond appropriately” to the summons.

“As an employer of 15,000 dedicated women and men, nothing is more serious than the death of an employee due to a workplace incident,” he said.

“Our sympathies for Tom Dedes’s family, friends and co-workers remains deep.”

The Ministry Of Labour didn’t return requests for comment Tuesday evening.

Dedes, 50, was an 18-year veteran of the TTC at the time of his death. He was severely injured shortly after 2 a.m. at the agency’s McCowan Carhouse in Scarborough, when he was crushed between a parked pickup truck and a moving rail car. He was taken to hospital and died eight days later.

According to the summons, which was delivered days before the one-year deadline the ministry had to lay charges under the act, the TTC is accused of violating regulations that stipulate employers must erect barriers or warnings to protect workers from vehicle traffic, and provide adequate lighting to ensure employee safety. The agency is also charged with failing to take every reasonable precaution to protect a worker.

The precautions the TTC allegedly failed to take include “provid(ing) road markings defining the area swept by the tail of turning rail cars” and “provid(ing) a trained and qualified …work car monitor” to ensure a car doesn’t strike workers or equipment.

As the Star reported in May, as part of an investigation into this incident that was still ongoing at the time, ministry investigators found the lighting at the carhouse didn’t meet safety standards. Ministry guidelines stated there should be a minimum lighting level of between 20 and 30 lux, but readings found an average of just 8.3 lux at the site.

The TTC has since painted yellow lines to mark a safe zone around the curved track where Dedes was struck, but there were no such markings in place at the time of the fatal incident, the TTC told the Star in May.

Joanne Dedes, Tom’s sister-in-law, said in an interview the charges bring “some type of closure” to his family as they prepare to mark the one-year anniversary of his death.

“But it won’t bring him back. A life is lost, is lost,” she said.

“But at least hopefully the TTC learns from it to prevent any further deaths.”

In a statement sent Tuesday night, Frank Grimaldi, the president of the largest TTC workers union, said the organization “continues to grieve the loss of Tom Dedes.”

“ATU Local 113 hopes the charges against the TTC will result in necessary workplace improvements so such a tragedy never happens again,” he said, noting that the union “is strongly committed to improving the health and safety conditions of Toronto’s public transit workers.”

In 2008, the Ministry of Labour fined the TTC $200,000 in the death of worker Tony Almeida, who was killed while working with an asbestos abatement crew on the Yonge subway line. A platform on the work train he was driving struck the side of the tunnel, came loose, and crushed his operating cab.

The ministry also investigated the 2012 death of TTC track worker Peter Pavlovksi, who was struck by a rail car near Yorkdale station. The ministry declined to lay charges.

Ben Spurr is a Toronto-based reporter covering transportation. Reach him by email at or follow him on Twitter: @BenSpurr

– Toronto Star