Employers must keep staff safe

Kamloops Daily News
February 26, 2013 01:00 AM

The penalties were by no means the largest of the 260 levied against provincial businesses by WorkSafeBC in 2012, but three local firms were repeat offenders.

The largest fine of $28,000 went to Sanders & Co. Contracting after workers were exposed to dangerous trees at Lac Le Jeune, again.

M&J Dhaliwal Green Acres Vegetable Farm was dinged $11,351 for an incident in November where three workers were seriously injured when a barn under construction caved in and they fell 23 feet onto a concrete slab.

The WorkSafeBC Enforcement Report said the firm failed to ensure its workers' safety as it did not ensure they used required fall protection,
nor did it provide the training and supervision necessary for such dangerous work.

Additionally, the report says the company "knowingly provided" false information about the work being done and instructed its workers to do the same.

And this is not the first time Green Acres was cracked down on; in February 2011, it was penalized the same amount for violating a stop-work order three times to rebuild a collapsed barn. It tried to appeal the fine twice, but was unsuccessful.

Norris Rodney Laitinen and Talena Ellen Jensen, was fined $2,500 after a worker suffered serious injuries when he fell 11 feet from a roof last year. The report noted this firm also didn't ensure the worker used fall protection or provide safety instruction and supervision.

The same company was penalized twice before for not ensuring safe work conditions for its
roofers - $5,000 in 2011 and $2,500 in 2010.

One might wonder why fines for repeat offenders weren't higher, but they are calculated based on a few factors including payroll (higher payrolls equal higher penalties), the nature of the violation and compliance history.

Employers have a legal responsibility to ensure they are doing everything possible to keep workers safe.

Accidents happen, but for companies that have received warnings before, there is no excuse.

All companies should take this issue seriously, not just to avoid fines, but as part of the obligation to look out for those they employ. It's the ethical and responsible thing to do.

© Copyright 2015 Kamloops Daily News

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