WorkSafeBC has slapped Conifex Mackenzie Forest Products with an $83,622.72 fine for a "repeated high-risk violation."
WorkSafeBC said in a statement issued Tuesday that it was levied on November 10, 2022 after an inspection of the firm's sawmill and planer mill uncovered "multiple areas where machinery gates and panels did not prevent workers from accessing hazardous points of operation.
"Other areas were observed without guards to safely contain material ejected by the mill's work processes. The firm failed to ensure its machinery and equipment was fitted with adequate safeguards to protect workers, a repeated violation."
In a statement, a Conifex spokesperson said that since the fine was issued, steps have been taken to address the concerns including a daily audit of the guards.
"At Conifex, the health and safety of all our employees is of the utmost importance and something we take very seriously," the spokesperson said.
The amount of a penalty is usually based on the size of the employer’s payroll and the nature of the violation, according to a WorkSafeBC information sheet.
"Penalties can be larger if certain specific factors are present, such as for high-risk or intentional circumstances, or if the employer has received a penalty about a substantially similar violation in the past three years."
In August 2018, Conifex was fined $191,667.77, later reduced to $153,334.22 for unsafe work practices at its Fort St. James sawmill that led to load of lumber falling on a forklift driver.
And, in October 2015, the firm was fined $75,000 after hazardous accumulations of combustible dust were observed in its Fort St. James sawmill.