Construction boss jailed over repeated workplace safety violations

B.C. Supreme Court judge says director treated fines as a 'cost of doing business'

Construction boss jailed over repeated workplace safety violations

Dalwinder Singh Kandola, director of G & D Construction Ltd. (GDCL), a Metro Vancouver construction company, has been sentenced to jail time after repeated workplace safety violations.

Kandola and GDCL were found in contempt of court in May. The company has now been fined $25,000 and Kandola sentenced to 14 days in prison. He and his company had previously been ordered to pay over $43,000 for violations of the B.C. Workers Compensation Act as well as civil contempt, according to a CBC News report.

In a May 18 judgement, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Sheila Tucker wrote that these penalties had “little to no effect” and that “a penalty that goes beyond monetary is required”.

Many of the safety violations concerns stemmed from people working at heights in dangerous conditions, or lacking adequate fall protection. In 2017, WorkSafeBC won an injunction against Kandola and GDCL. Kandola was ordered by a B.C. Supreme Court justice to comply with OHS laws.

However, the judgement details WorkSafeBC inspections of the company’s worksites between 2018 and 2020, which found a number of safety violations. Though Kandola and the company were fined, 2021 WorkSafeBC inspections in Surrey and Mission uncovered more violations – typically related to dangerous working at heights conditions.

“In treating the fines imposed to date as a cost of doing business, Mr. Kandola has put GDCL's workers at risk of harm, shown disrespect for the court and created the appearance of operating with impunity,” wrote Tucker. “The fact that the breaches continue to involve conduct of similar kind and similar risk speaks to the measure of defiance involved.”

Tucker ordered GDCL to pay its fine to the provincial treasurer within 60 days of her judgement. WorkSafeBC was also awarded special costs. The safety regulator abandoned an earlier application for an order to shut down GDCL.

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