In response to Jim Bodkin’s letter of Oct. 15 with regards to School District 22 (Vernon) being fined by WorkSafe BC, some background information is necessary to make an informed decision.
An investigation was initiated by a group of SD 22 maintenance staff in 2015 over repeated asbestos exposure. WorkSafe BC did an in-depth investigation over the allegations and found:
1) SD 22 failed to take sufficient precautions for prevention of work-related injuries and illness
2) had not complied with sections of the WorkSafe regulations
3) had not maintained a safe workplace or safe working conditions
4) did not exercise due diligence to prevent these circumstances
As a result of this investigation, WorkSafe BC fined SD 22 $75,000 (maximum first-time fine) in 2016. WorkSafe monitored SD 22 until such time as a safety manager was hired.
In June 2016, WorkSafe responds to a new violation with investigation leading to SD 22 being at fault. SD 22 is fined $628,000 based on a workforce of 85 employees.
Rules, regulations and laws are to protect citizens’ health and safety. Government institutions should be held to the same standards as private companies, as their employees are entitled to the same safety policies. Allowing regulations to be disregarded leads to more abuses until the rules no longer seem to apply. Mr. Bodkin may be correct in stating that the management responsible should be dealt with personally for their oversights and/or criminal action.
It appears WorkSafe BC was sending a message to SD 22, other employers and the public that if SD 22 workforce was endangered how possibly could the students not have been. These fines bring attention and public awareness to the workings of this institution and remind other government institutions that they are not above the law.