A company clearing the ruins of burned-out building in the Kootenays has been slapped with the biggest administrative penalty in WorkSafeBC history.
WorkSafeBC has issued a $710,488 fine against GFL Environmental Inc. after a worker at a Kimberley job site was found not wearing personal protective equipment while dealing with material assumed to be contaminated with asbestos.
WorkSafeBC says this is the maximum administrative penalty amount that can be imposed in 2022, and is the highest administrative penalty it has ever imposed.
The fine was issued August 2, 2022 for failure to provide workers with personal protective equipment when conducting asbestos abatement work.
According to the WorkSafeBC report, they inspected the site of a fire-damaged commercial building in Kimberley assumed to be cross-contaminated with asbestos-containing materials (ACM).
“This firm was hired to provide demolition services and debris removal,” the report says. “WorkSafeBC inspected the site after the building had been demolished and observed one of the firm’s workers inside the containment area, loading debris into disposal bins with an excavator.”
The ruling says the worker was not wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect against exposure to ACMs and exited the excavator, still within the containment area, without PPE.
“The firm failed to ensure the worker within the designated work area wore appropriate protective clothing, and that its workers at risk of exposure to asbestos were instructed in the use of PPE and work procedures to be followed,” the ruling states.
“The firm failed to provide its workers with the information, instruction, training, and supervision necessary to ensure their health and safety. These were all high-risk violations.”
Asbestos is the number one cause of occupational disease in B.C.
GFL Environmental Inc. is a waste management company with headquarters in Toronto, Canada. GFL operates in all provinces in Canada, and currently employs more than 8,850 people.