WorkSafeBC imposes more than $719,000 fine for asbestos violations

Journal of Commerce | DCN-JOC News Services | September 20, 2022

KIMBERLEY, B.C. — WorkSafeBC has imposed a massive penalty on GFL Environmental for failure to provide workers with personal protective equipment (PPE) when conducting asbestos abatement work.

The Kimberley, B.C. company is being fined $719,488.79, the maximum administrative penalty that can be imposed in 2022, a release stated.

The fine was imposed on Aug. 2 after WorkSafeBC inspected the site of a fire-damaged commercial building assumed to be cross-contaminated with asbestos-containing materials. GFL Environmental was hired to provide demolition services and debris removal.

WorkSafeBC inspected the site after the building was demolished and observed a GFL Environmental worker inside the containment area, loading debris into disposal bins with an excavator. The worker was not wearing PPE and also exited the excavator without PPE while still within the containment area, the release stated.

The firm failed to ensure the worker within the designated work area wore appropriate protective clothing and that its workers at risk of exposure to asbestos were instructed in the use of PPE and work procedures to be followed.

The firm also failed to provide its workers with the information, instruction, training and supervision necessary to ensure their health and safety.

“These were all high-risk violations,” the release stated.

In 2021, WorkSafeBC imposed 359 penalties totalling approximately $7.9 million. To date, the largest single fine, imposed in April 2014, is $1,011,639.62.