Creative division of fine to pump up safety measures

Alberta company’s $375,000 health and safety fine for worker deaths will fund fire department and safety training

An Alberta court’s creative sentencing has turned a company’s health and safety violations that led to the deaths of two workers into an opportunity to decrease the chance of similar workplace fatalities in the future.

Alstar Oilfield Constractors, and oilfield construction company in northwest Alberta, has been sentenced to pay $375,000 as a result of a June 30, 2006, incident in Fox Creek, Alta., where two workers were fatally injured. The workers were welding a container shut when there was an explosion caused by a leaking propane cylinder inside. A provincial government investigation under the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act discovered gasoline, propane and other flammable materials were in the container when the welding was taking place.

Alstar received a total penalty of $375,000, of which $5,000 was allocated to a fine and victim fine surcharge. The bulk of the penalty was a creative sentence that gives $250,000 of the fine to the Fox Creek Fire Department for purchasing equipment for worksite fire and other emergency operations. Another $60,000 will be given to the Fox Creek School for workplace health and safety training and $60,000 will go towards two memorial bursaries in the Occupational Health and Safety portions of the Business and Industry Careers Program at NorQuest College in Edmonton.

Creative sentencing allows judges to direct the money from OHS Act convictions towards programs which support worker health and safety.

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