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Infrastructure, OH&S

Site C contractor racks up fines for high-risk violations

Russell Hixson
Site C contractor racks up fines for high-risk violations
BC HYDRO — An aerial view shows the upstream area of Site C’s diversion tunnel inlet portal on the north bank of the Peace River. One of the project’s main contractors, Peace River Hydro Partners was recently hit with a large penalty by WorkSafeBC.

WorkSafeBC has slapped the main civil works contractor for the Site C project with a penalty of more $660,000.

According to WorkSafeBC documents, Peace River Hydro Partners (PRHP) was hit with a $662,102.48 fine in March following a series of worksite inspections at the dam site near Fort St. John, B.C.

Inspectors found several health and safety deficiencies related to the use of wheel chocks and curbs for rock trucks, training and documentation, emergency facilities, chemical labelling and ventilation in a lab.

Inspectors noted the firm failed to install adequate curbs where there was a danger of a vehicle running off the edge of an elevated area and failed to ensure that each piece of equipment was capable of safely performing its functions, states WorkSafeBC.

The firm also failed to provide its workers with the training necessary to ensure their health and safety and to keep adequate training records, inspectors stated. In addition, the firm “failed to take action to correct reported unsafe conditions without delay and failed overall to ensure the health and safety of all workers at its worksite,” stated WorkSafeBC documents. “These were all repeated violations.”

PRHP is a partnership between ACCIONA Infrastructure Canada Inc. and Samsung C&T Canada Ltd. The partnership was awarded the main civil works contract for the Site C in 2015.

Officials with PRHP say they have worked to improve the situations cited by WorkSafeBC.

“Peace River Hydro Partners takes the safety of its workers very seriously,” said Jamie Bodnarchuk, PRHP communications manager. “While cited for orders of non-compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation resulting in the administration of a penalty, PRHP has since complied with all written orders associated with the penalty, and undertook immediate steps to put operational improvements in place to prevent future occurrences. We remain committed to the health and safety of our workers.”

This latest fine isn’t the group’s first major fine.

Last August, it was hit with another $662,000 penalty after a worker accessed the main circuit breaker in a high-voltage electrical cabinet on the firm’s tunnelling equipment. An electrical discharge occurred and the worker sustained an electrical shock injury.

According to WorkSafeBC, its inspectors found that the main electrical breaker extensions on the exterior cabinet door were not functioning, the de-energization switches had been circumvented and the main breaker switch-box isolation covers were in disrepair.

WorkSafeBC also discovered it was a standard practice for crews to access the main circuit breaker without following lockout procedures. This resulted in a stop-use order for the tunnelling equipment. The regulator called the situation a “high-risk violation.”

WorkSafeBC records show the firm was also hit with a $310,000 penalty in May 2018 after its excavation, blasting and crushing work did not have an up to date exposure plan and did not include occupational exposure testing or effective dust-suppression systems.

Inspectors found that tunnelling operations had begun before samples of the tunnelled materials had been taken and analyzed. Further sampling showed high levels of crystalline silica in the tunnelled material. In addition, inspectors noted that the type of respirators workers were not adequate for the site’s level of exposure.

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