B.C. Tree Fruits gets $220,000 WorkSafe fine

A WorkSafeBC inspector noted a series of issues at the B.C. Tree Fruits Oliver packing plant in 2016

The B.C. Tree Fruits Co-operative says it is fighting a nearly $220,000 fine levied against it by WorkSafeBC last month over a pair of May 2016 incidents.

WorkSafeBC inspected the B.C. Tree Fruits on May 20 and 24, 2016 and in the first inspection the work safety regulators found two issues, and an additional six additional issues at the plant in Oliver.

On May 20, inspector Steve McCollum observed a pair of workers “exposed to a fall of between 13 and 14 feet to the roof below,” which had piping and guardrails that added to the risk of injury in the case of a fall.

“Only one worker had received any fall protection training from their employer, the second worker was new to this trade and had not received any fall protection training,” McCollum wrote. “No one in a supervisory capacity was aware of this work taking place and no safe work procedures were in place to control the hazards.”

That violated a pair of WorkSafeBC rules — first, a lack of safe work procedures for work at an elevation; and second, a lack of fall protection training for one of the two employees. WorkSafeBC wrote in its final decision on April 4 that the lack of training was a high-risk violation.

That issue had been corrected by a Sept. 21, 2016 follow-up inspection.

During the May 24 inspection, McCollum wrote that he observed four large machines without proper safety guards on them, a lack of a curb to protect machines like scissor lifts driving off the edge of a loading dock and a lack of an eyewash station.

The issue with the safety guards, WorkSafeBC wrote in its final decision on April 4 this year, were repeat violations from other worksites run by B.C. Tree Fruits.

By the Oct. 5, 2016 follow-up inspection, those issues had also been corrected.

B.C. Tree Fruits had little to say in a response, due to the ongoing nature of the matter.

“B.C. Tree Fruits Cooperative continues to place worker safety as one of our top priorities. As a daily practice, we endeavour to comply with all WorkSafeBC regulations and continue to improve awareness of established safety procedures with all our staff.”

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Dustin Godfrey | Reporter

@dustinrgodfrey

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