WorkSafeBC imposed a record $4.46 million in penalties in 2009

16 incidents involved a workplace fatality and construction employers accounted for more than one-half of total penalties

Last year, WorkSafeBC imposed a record penalty amount against employers for health and safety violoations.

In 2009, 211 penalties for violations of British Columbia's Occupational Health and Safety Regulation and the Workers Compensation Act were imposed against 190 employers, totalling $4.46 million. Individual penalties ranged from $1,000 up to $250,000.

The previous record amount was a total of $4.27 million for 221 penalties imposed in 2007.

A total of 16 incidents for which an employer was penalized in 2009 involved a fatality (two employers were penalized separately for a single incident, and there was more than one fatality in two incidents).

“Employers must take seriously their responsibility to ensure their workplace is healthy and safe for all workers,” said Roberta Ellis, vice-president of the policy, investigations and review division at WorkSafeBC. “A penalty is not imposed if an employer is found to have taken all reasonable care to prevent a violation.”

Employers from 67 industry classifications received penalties. Companies in five construction-related classifications accounted for 58.7 per cent of the penalties imposed in 2009. Those companies were in the following industry classifications:

• Steep slope roofing - 29 per cent (62)

• House or other wood frame general contracting, construction or renovation work - 10 per cent (21)

• Framing or residential forming - eight per cent (17)

• Low slope roofing - seven per cent (15)

• Industrial, commercial, institutional or highrise residential general contracting or construction – 4.2 per cent (9)

“WorkSafeBC has increased its inspection and investigation capacity, directing a more intensive focus to the industries and employers that present the highest risk to workers, including construction sites, and employers where compliance has been known to be an issue — such as roofing”, said Ellis. “In 2008, we developed a team of 16 prevention officers to focus on residential construction.”

WorkSafeBC's full penalty report is available here.

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