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FortisBC fined $11,647 for safety violations at Bonnington

WorkSafeBC has field FortisBC $11,647 for “high-risk” safety violations at its Lower Bonnington dam.

The agency says it inspected the worksite in response to incidents that occurred on Aug. 19, Oct. 23, Oct. 30, and Nov. 1, 2021.

They say workers from a subcontractor were doing concrete repair on one of the dams, working from a suspended scaffold over the tailrace. However, a generating unit wasn’t shut down and locked out.

WorkSafe says “on multiple occasions” the generating unit was started up, creating water surges that flooded and damaged the scaffold.

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“The employer failed to ensure energy sources were isolated and controlled if an unexpected startup could cause injury to workers,” WorkSafeBC wrote.

They added that the company failed to establish and maintain “a system of regulatory compliance” and failed to ensure the co-ordination of health and safety.

The penalty was imposed on June 17.

WorkSafeBC says the size of fines are usually based on the employer’s payroll and the nature of the violation. Penalties can be larger for high-risk or intentional circumstances, or if the employer has been penalized for a similar violation in the previous three years.

The maximum penalty is $710,488, which is set out in legislation and adjusted at the start of each year.

In March 2020, FortisBC was fined $9,597 for high-risk violations at its South Slocan plant after a worker drilled holes in a cinderblock wall releasing vermiculite insulation, which was later found to contain asbestos.

In a prepared statement, FortisBC said it takes safety “very seriously” and is grateful no one was hurt during these incidents.

“While incidents like this are very rare, we investigate them thoroughly to learn from the incident and prevent reoccurrence,” the company said.

“In this case, we investigated the incident internally, and have cooperated fully with WorkSafeBC’s investigation. We have implemented additional safety measures to ensure work could be completed safely. Keeping workers safe is a priority for us.”

WorkSafe’s inspection report can be viewed here.

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