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Work Safe BC fines Campbell River companies

Five companies working in the Campbell River area have been penalized a total of $106,000 for having employees working in unsafe conditions.

Work Safe B.C. handed down 352 penalties across the province, totaling more than $4.8 million, against employers for violations in 2011 of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation and the Workers Compensation Act.

“Monetary penalties are imposed on employers for repeated or serious violations of occupational health and safety regulations and to motivate to comply with their legal responsibilities,” said Jeff Dolan, director of investigations for Work Safe. “An employer is not penalized if they have taken all reasonable steps to prevent risks to their workers.”

One of the five penalized in Campbell River was a Crown corporation. BC Hydro was fined $75,000 for allegedly having workers operating in an unsafe trench.

In a summary of the incident, Work Safe said BC Hydro failed to ensure the trench had adequate slopes or supports in place. As well:

“Further, as the prime contractor of multiple-employer worksite, the firm failed to do everything reasonably predictable to establish and maintain an effective system for ensuring compliance with health and safety requirements.”

According to BC Hydro spokesman Stephen Watson, the 1.2-metre power line trench was found to be safe. The problem was the corporation did not receive the go-ahead from a professional engineer or geoscientist to determine it was secure before work began.

"Safety is BC Hydro's highest priority, and steps have been taken to ensure no similar pre-work breakdown occurs. BC Hydro is currently reviewing the fine with Work Safe BC," Watson wrote in an e-mail.

The fine was paid last fall but is currently under review at BC Hydro’s request. If that fails, the company can appeal to the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Tribunal, an independent board.

In a press release, Work Safe noted that approximately two-thirds of penalties are not appealed. Of those penalties that are appealed, approximately 90 per cent are upheld.

Here is a list of the others in Campbell River who were fined and the status of the penalties:

- 7-Eleven Canada, $15,000, for numerous health and safety violations. such as not maintaining employees’ first aid records and not providing  emergency washing facilities for anyone coming in contact with a harmful or corrosive material. The fine is under appeal.

- DER Resorts Ltd., 8,540, an employee sustained serious head injuries when she fell out of the back of a pickup truck. The fine has not been appealed.

- Darrell Dean Warner, $5,000, six employees were working on a roof more than 3.5 metres high without having any fall protection. The employer also failed to provide adequate training and supervision. Work Safe noted these were repeated violations. The fine was not appealed.

- Kent Laverdure Plumbing Ltd., $2,841, for an employee working in two high-risk excavations. The fine was not appealed.

The largest fine in B.C., $250,000, was handed to Peter Kiewit Infrastructure for a fatality at the run-of-the-river hydro-electric operation under construction in the Toba Valley, located on the Mainland coast, east of Campbell River.

On Feb. 22, 2009, Samuel Fitzpatrick, 24, of Squamish was hand drilling a boulder to prepare it for blasting when a rock rolled downhill and killed him. Work Safe said the company failed to remove loose material before the work began.

The fine is under review.

Elsewhere on the North Island, Neucel Specialty Cellulose of Port Alice was fined $75,000 after two employees were dismantling a wall and it collapsed on them.The two suffered minor injuries and Work Safe indicated they may have been exposed to airborne asbestos. The fine was upheld after a review, but there’s still a chance it may be appealed.

In its report, Work Safe noted, “In 2011, Work Safe developed a team of eight prevention officers to focus on continued non-compliance in residential demolition and asbestos abatement. About 15 per cent (54) of the penalties imposed were for asbestos- or hazardous materials-related violations — the vast majority of which were for companies doing residential demolition and asbestos abatement.”

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