Licensee and Contractor Fined in Contractor Worker Death

A Williams Lake beetle trap tree falling contractor and the licensee that contracted him both received fines after the death of a faller on the job this year. WorkSafeBC cited both the contractor and the owner for failing to properly instruct, train or supervise the worker employed by the contractor. The contractor received $2,500 fine for his failings; the licensee $75,000 for theirs. The pair of fines reflect the due diligence that licensees need to exercise around the training and supervision of workers directed by firms they contract work to.

The different size of the fines to both the contractor and owner, which are described in more detail in the WorkSafe Magazine November/December edition under Penalties, in part reflects the onus on licensees to realize they do not contract out their responsibilities for safety in the workplace once they award work to a contractor. According to the WSCA many foresters in both private industry and the government continue to fail to grasp this fundamental principle of due diligence. This was evident in some of the initial response from BCTS representatives regarding the circumstances in the now infamous Khaira Enterprises debacle. It may also be at the root of some private firms’ elaborate lawyer-driven attempts to franchise prime contractor status to just about every contractor on site in order to divest themselves of any liability or responsibility for the contractor’s workplace behaviour. As this recent ruling indicates, in practice that strategy is likely pointless.

In remedying this situation both contractors and owners should look to ensuring firms employ workers that are trained, oriented, supervised and qualified through industry recognized practices and standards. The WSCA has introduced credible and practical training for ATV operators, silviculture saw workers, light truck operators and supervisors and this kind of training should be required of any contractor on site. Having workers trained to these industry-recognized standards provides a much stronger defence of due diligence to both the contractor and the owner than no training, or training that cannot demonstrate it is best example of what the industry holds as appropriate. It is obvious that WorkSafeBC is sending a signal in this decision that should be noticed.