Shipbuilder faces fine following worker's CO poisoning incident

The incident occurred in the firm's Victoria yard in 2023

Shipbuilder faces fine following worker's CO poisoning incident

Maritime employer Seaspan has received an assessment of a penalty worth $710,488.79 from WorkSafe BC following an incident in its Victoria yard which resulted to a worker suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning, as reported in an article by CBC News.

According to the workplace safety regulator, the incident took place last July 2023 at the Victoria Shipyards on Admirals Road, which was operated by Seaspan. Its online summary detailed that the worker was conducting arc gouging in a confined space on a ship. Arc gouging is a welding technique that melts and cuts metal using intense electricity.

Following an inspection by WorkSafe, it was found that Seaspan’s confined space entry program in relation to hazard assessment, atmospheric testing, worker well-being monitoring and protective gear had various deficiencies. WorkSafe noted that it found high-risk violations during the inspection.

A follow-up inspection in August 2023 also found that there was a gas monitor alarm that sounded two minutes after the worker went inside the confined space of the ship. The worker continued his work for 40 minutes before they left the space despite the fact that the alarm should have led to an evacuation at the workspace.

The report further said that Seaspan assessed the atmospheric hazard to only be a moderate risk instead of being high risk. While there was an assigned standby person that was tasked with monitoring the pre-entry testing as well as the space, there were no records of testing found.

“The employer stated that the standby person had not received training for the duty he was performing,” the report found.

WorkSafe issued several orders that were in relation to the occupational health and safety provision in the Workers Compensation Act. In a follow-up report from March 2024, it was found that all of its orders and items were either compiled with or closed.

“Following the incident at Seaspan Victoria Shipyards last July, we have taken a number of actions to evaluate and improve our processes and safety culture,” said Tony Winter, Seaspan's Victoria Shipyards vice president, in an emailed statement to CBC News.

“We constantly review our safety programs and hold ourselves accountable to achieve a safety culture across our organization,” he said further.

Seaspan’s penalty was assessed in February and was posted online in late March. The statutory maximum penalty for WorkSafe this 2024 is $ 783,068.26. It explained that the penalties were based on the size of the employer’s payroll as well as the nation of the firm’s violation.