Company fined for serious injuries on worker appealing fine

Employer was inspected 11 times, issued 27 corrective orders and one fine last year

Company fined for serious injuries on worker appealing fine

A British Columbia employer is appealing a fine imposed on the company in October 2023 following a worker injury.

Forestry products company San Group was fined $78,721.53 after an employee sustained serious injuries in the workplace.

The incident happened at the company’s Port Alberni sawmill, where an employee needed to have multiple fingers amputated because guards were missing and other equipment was not properly locked out, according to a report from CHEK news.

In its appeal, the company argues that the worker suffered injuries because the employee did not properly follow the company’s safety procedures.

However, WorkSafeBC has previously inspected the said sawmill 11 times between last year and this year. From those inspections, WorkSafeBC issued to the company 27 corrective orders and on top of the nearly $80,000 fine, according to CHEK news.

San Group is also facing allegations that it is providing temporary foreign workers inhumane working conditions in Port Alberni, according to another CHEK news report.

According to the report, approximately 15 migrant workers who were under contract with the company were living in a Port Alberni trailer. 

According to the report, the building did not have running water, and the men were allegedly forced to wash dishes in a small trickle of a stream out back. They were also forced to drink from it, according to the report.

The Salvation Army’s anti-human trafficking unit moved the workers out on June 29.

Meanwhile, San Group has sent a letter to the city, noting its intention to sue the city for its actions. It said that the surprise inspection on one of its Port Alberni companies was unauthorized and illegal. The employer also expressed anger because it happened without one of its staff present, according to the report.

“After they got in they went through offices, every single office looking in there, looking through the desks. Now we don’t know what was taken and we don’t know what was planted,” said Bob Bortolin, San Group’s vice president of business development, in the report.