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WorkSafe fine slashed 80% after Richmond business appeals

A worker was found not following instructions that led up to an accident where he lost three fingers.
Richmond Plywood Corp
Richmond Plywood Corp.

An appeal decision means a Richmond business will pay less than one-fifth of an original $547,000 WorkSafeBC fine for an incident that resulted in a worker having three fingers amputated.

In September 2021, Richmond Plywood Corporation was fined $547,080 for a July 2021 incident that left the worker with "crush and burn injuries" to his hand as he was adjusting a plywood panel on a press machine.

The company applied for a review of the decision the next May, and an oral hearing for the appeal was held a year later.

Warren Hoole, vice-chair of the Workers' Compensation Appeal Tribunal (WCAT), decided the employer would still be fined an administrative penalty of $95,739 given there were team communication, machinery safeguards, training, instruction and supervision violations 

However, during the review, the tribunal found the worker, who had several years of prior experience operating the press machine, was also at fault for several violations that led up to the incident.

Hoole wrote in the report the worker did not let his colleagues know he returned to the press machine after his break, ignored his training, the signs and the barriers around the press machine and climbed up to fix the misaligned plywood panels in the machine trays instead of using a "pike pole" as instructed in training.

The fine for Richmond Plywood was reduced to a "basic amount," instead of it being doubled as it was in the original penalty for being a "high risk" violation and further doubled for being a "repeat" penalty.

"While the present penalty bears a number of similarities to (a) prior penalty, I ultimately conclude that there is just enough of a distinction between them to militate against imposing the present administrative penalty on a 'repeat' basis," said Hoole.

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