WorkSafeBC has levied the highest fine it has ever imposed – nearly $300,000 – after a fatality that occurred at a major sawmill, citing the mill’s management “ignored safety concerns and condoned a culture where complacency in the face of danger became the norm.”
The death met three standards to justify the high penalty to the company: It involved a fatality, it arose out of a high-risk violation, and the violations were committed willfully or with reckless disregard.
The local police force recommended criminal charges be brought against the company under the 2004 Westray amendment to the Criminal Code. The amendment made company management criminally liable if it could be proven they demonstrated a wanton or reckless disregard for the safety of workers, however the evidence presented to Crown counsel did not support a substantial likelihood of conviction.
The death was “a heart-breaking, unacceptable, and preventable loss.” and although the charges were never pursued, measures have been taken within the company to ensure such an accident never happens again.
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