Labour investigators found dozens of safety violations at O'Regan's collision centres in the Halifax area after a worker was killed in a fire two years ago, CBC News has learned.
Kyle Hickey died in an explosion and fire at O'Regan Chevrolet Cadillac Ltd.'s autobody shop in Dartmouth on March 13, 2008. Two other employees were injured.
Because of the blast, inspectors with the Nova Scotia Department of Labour visited O'Regan's collision centres in both Dartmouth and Halifax three times over 18 months.
In May 2008, two months after the fire, the autobody shop in Halifax was issued six orders, including a stop-work order for using flammable chemicals from a container that wasn't grounded, documents obtained by CBC News show.
Investigators later discovered that the fatal Dartmouth explosion began in a container of chemicals that wasn't grounded in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions on the label.
Inspectors went back to the Halifax collision centre in December 2009. They issued 36 compliance orders for the centre, the Chevrolet Cadillac showroom and service bays. Those orders covered a range of safety issues, from replacing the type of ladder in use to ensuring the safe dispensing of flammable liquids.
In January, inspectors visited the new autobody shop on Windmill Road in Dartmouth and found deficiencies in 20 areas. Inspectors issued orders demanding annual inspections of the car hoist and written instructions for the use of respiratory equipment in the paint shop.
O'Regan's was quick to comply with every order.
"Our company will continue to do whatever it takes to ensure a safe workplace for our employees and customers," Kathleen O'Regan, the company's human resources director, said in an email to CBC News.
This summer, the company pleaded guilty to one charge under the Nova Scotia Occupational Health and Safety Act in connection with Hickey's death. A sentencing hearing is expected to conclude on Friday.
O'Regan told the court Monday that the company has spent nearly $20,000 to overhaul its safety procedures and provide more training for its 33 autobody employees.
The company faces a maximum fine of $250,000. The Crown is requesting a fine of $150,000, which would be a record amount in Nova Scotia, but something the company can afford. The court was told the dealership averages sales worth $70 million a year.
Sean O'Regan, president and CEO, said Monday the company has accepted responsibility for breaching safety rules.