In an effort to let British Columbia (Canada) employers know that officials were watching them, WorkSafeBC reported recently that it imposed 260 penalties, totaling $2.9 million against employers for violations of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation and theWorkers Compensation Act.
The highest single penalty in 2012 was imposed against Francesco Aquilini & Roberto Aquilini & Elisa Aquilini et al., for failing to maintain in safe operating condition, the farm vehicle the employer used to transport farm workers. This was a repeated violation and the firm was fined $125,277.
The second and third highest penalties of $105,000 each were imposed against Skylite Building Maintenance Ltd., for chronic repeated violations of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation and Workers Compensation Act, for exposing workers to asbestos. In 2012, three penalties were imposed on Skylite totalling $227,500.
WorkSafeBC Increases Enforcement Capacity
In recent years, officials have seen to it that WorkSafeBC increase its enforcement capacity, directing a more intensive focus to the industries that present the highest risk to workers and to employers where compliance is known to be an issue — such as steep slope roofing and asbestos abatement.
"Penalties are imposed to motivate employers to comply with health and safety laws," commented Al Johnson, vice president Prevention Services.
"While WorkSafeBC works with employers to ensure they understand their legal responsibilities to provide safe and healthy workplaces — our officers will impose a penalty or pursue court processes against employers who repeatedly fail to comply with the law."
With eyes watching, the message for employers is that shortcuts on workplace safety will not be tolerated.
By the Numbers:
- The total penalties issued in 2012 were against 225 individual employers.
- A total of six incidents in which an employer was penalized involved a fatality.
- Employers from the construction sector accounted for almost 85% of penalties. Most of these penalties were related to inadequate use of fall protection (59%) and exposing workers to asbestos (14%).
- Penalty amounts vary year over year due to the size of employers penalized (employers with larger payrolls are assessed higher penalties) and the seriousness of the violations.
- The maximum penalty amount permissible under the Workers Compensation Act is adjusted yearly — in 2012 it was $596,435.35.
Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com. Contact: email@example.com.
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