School Board Wants Review of Penalty

The Board of Education of School District No. 22 (Vernon) was recently informed of the decision of WorkSafeBC to impose an administrative penalty of $628,034.57 for violating the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation issued under the Workers’ Compensation Act.
The penalty relates to work done on a leased property that was being renovated in May 2016 to house the District’s Open Door Learning Centre. Unknown to the District at the time of the renovations, the property contained asbestos containing material. The District had not been informed by the landlord that asbestos containing material was present, but had been informed that the property had previously been renovated, leading the District to believe that no asbestos containing material should remain.
WorkSafeBC determined that the District violated the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation by failing to take sufficient precautions for the prevention of work-related injuries or illnesses; has not complied with sections 6.7(2) and 20.112(2) of the Regulation; has not maintained a safe workplace or safe working conditions; and did not exercise due diligence to prevent the circumstances.
The District is very disappointed in WorkSafeBC’s decision. The District and all its employees take worker and student safety extremely seriously. The District has developed and implemented a comprehensive and fully compliant asbestos management program and asbestos exposure control plan, has retained a qualified person to conduct asbestos surveys, hazard assessments and prepare inventories of all asbestos containing materials in all buildings operated by the District, and has undertaken comprehensive asbestos training of its maintenance workers.
The District believes that it advanced sound arguments why no penalty was warranted and that it took all reasonable steps to comply with its asbestos hazard mitigation obligations. The District is disappointed in what it considers to be an excessive penalty and will be working with our lawyers and asking for a review of the penalty.