Victoria companies face more than $200K in combined fines following ‘high-risk violations’

Victoria companies face more than $200K in combined fines following 'high-risk violations'
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WorkSafeBC fined Point Hope Maritime Ltd. more than $84,000 in August following high-risk violations at its drydock, while Verity Construction Ltd. was fined more than $122,000 for violations at a worksite in Langford.

Two Greater Victoria-based companies responsible for several “high-risk violations” are out tens of thousands of dollars, with total fines combined exceeding $200,000.

WorkSafeBC fined Point Hope Maritime Ltd. $84,999.31 on Aug. 2 following a violation at a worksite in Victoria, while Verity Construction Ltd. was fined $122,403.34 on Aug. 11 for a violation at a worksite in Langford.

In a penalty summary, the statutory agency says it went to Point Hope Maritime’s drydock shipyard following an incident that saw a worker suffer severe injuries after falling inside the bay of a ferry on site.

There were “multiple” deficiencies with the company’s “confined space entry program,” according to WorkSafeBC, prompting a stop-work order.

It says the company (or firm) then “failed to conduct an adequate hazard assessment for the confined space” and “failed to develop written procedures based on that assessment, both repeated violations.”

“The firm also failed to conduct pre-entry testing and inspections and to conduct additional testing in a moderate hazard atmosphere to ensure the worker’s continued safety,” WorkSafeBC said.

“In addition, the firm failed to ensure that workers were adequately trained in confined space hazards and procedures, failed to ensure there was a continuous means of summoning a standby person from inside the space, and firm failed to ensure the health and safety of all workers at its workplace. These were all high-risk violations.”

Verity’s fine, meanwhile, was imposed after WorkSafeBC inspected the company’s construction site and found a scaffold tower used by workers to access the sixth level was unsafe.

“No guardrails were in place on the scaffold, and WorkSafeBC issued a stop-use order for the scaffold,” the agency said. “The firm failed to ensure that elevated work areas had guards or guardrails installed, a repeated and high-risk violation.”

WorkSafeBC says it’s committed to preventing workplace injury, disease and death. To help achieve this, it has the legislative authority to issue financial penalties against employers for health and safety violations.

The maximum statutory penalty the agency can impose in 2022 is around $710,000 — substantially less than the largest ever imposed fine, which totalled more than $1.01 million in April 2014.

“The amount of a penalty is usually based on the size of the employer’s payroll, and the nature of the violation,” Yesenia Dhott, media relations officer at WorkSafe BC, told CHEK News.

“Penalties can be larger if certain specific factors are present, such as for high-risk or intentional circumstances, or if the employer has received a penalty about a substantially similar violation in the past three years,” Dhott said.

She added that WorkSafeBC issued 359 penalties in 2021, totalling approximately $7.9 million in fines against employers last year alone.

Ethan MorneauEthan Morneau

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