In 2012, British Columbia’s workers' compensation board, WorkSafeBC, imposed 260 penalties, which totaled $2.9 million against employers for violations of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation and the Workers Compensation Act.
Six incidents in which an employer was penalized involved a fatality.
Employers from the construction sector accounted for almost 85 per cent of penalties. Most of these penalties were related to inadequate use of fall protection (59 per cent) and exposing workers to asbestos (14 per cent).
The highest single penalty in 2012 was imposed against members of the Aquilini family, who own the Golden Eagle blueberry farm — they also own the Vancouver Canucks. The penalty was the results of failing to maintain, in safe operating condition, the farm vehicle the employer used to transport workers at their Golden Eagle blueberry farm. This was a repeated violation and the company was fined $125,277.
The second and third highest penalties of $105,000 each were imposed against Skylite Building Maintenance for 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.
In recent years, WorkSafeBC has increased 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.
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.