B.C. employer fined and banned after asbestos-related violations

Employer exposes 13 to 15 workers to hazardous material

B.C. employer fined and banned after asbestos-related violations

British Columbia employer Vivesh Kochhe, of AVR Drywall Recycling Ltd., has been fined $20,000 plus a surcharge after exposing 13 to 15 workers to asbestos-containing material.

Kochhe has also been prohibited from owning or operating a waste transfer facility or any other business that involves the management, handling, or disposal of asbestos-containing material for a period of three years.

The employer was penalized after defying a WorkSafeBC stop-work order, which was issued on Sept. 21, 2019, by a WorkSafeBC Prevention Officer who inspected the site and found asbestos. In November 2019, Kochher continued work at an AVR Drywall Recycling Ltd. worksite where asbestos was previously detected.

Kochher also brought in a third-party contractor on Nov. 11 – a statutory holiday – while the stop-work order was still in place, to remove the asbestos-containing material and equipment, according to WorkSafeBC.

Kochher chose that date “because it provided him with a lower likelihood of detection,” according to the Crown.

On top of that, Kochher did not advise the third-party contractor or its workers of the presence of asbestos at the worksite, or that there was a stop-work order in place. Also, the defendant did not provide the workers with any personal protective equipment, which is required when dealing with asbestos.

Inhaling asbestos fibres can cause fibrotic lung disease (asbestosis) and changes in the lining of the chest cavity (pleura), according to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS). These diseases can lead to reduced respiratory function and death. Long-term inhalation of asbestos fibres also increases the risk of lung cancer and mesothelioma. Enlargement of the heart can also occur as an indirect effect from the increased resistance of blood flow through the lungs, it added.

“More than half of all work-related fatalities are from occupational diseases, of which the majority are from exposure to asbestos,” said Al Johnson, head of prevention services for WorkSafeBC. “We cannot, and will not, tolerate employers endangering the lives of workers. There are profound consequences for this kind of egregious disregard for worker health and safety

Kochher proceeded to voluntarily dissolve his company, AVR Drywall Recycling Ltd., following the infraction, according to WorkSafeBC.

Previously, Craig's Bakery Ltd., Onni Contracting Ltd., Tede Construction Ltd., Leader Hazmat Ltd., HLC Holdings Inc., Sunrick Development Ltd. and Angus Environmental were also fined over asbestos-related violations in the workplace.