British Columbia

B.C. Ferries fined $674K over worker who drowned after falling from vessel

British Columbia's worker health and safety agency has imposed a hefty fine on B.C. Ferry Services Inc., over the death of one of its workers in June 2020.

Worker died after drowning in the Fraser River in June 2020 in Richmond, B.C.

Two years after a man died while working at the B.C. Ferries maintenance facility on Rice Mill Road in Richmond, the provincial workplace regulator has fined the ferry corporation over $670,000. (Google Street View)

British Columbia's worker health and safety agency has imposed a hefty fine on B.C. Ferry Services Inc., over the death of one of its workers in June 2020.

A statement on the WorkSafeBC site says a fine of $674,445 was issued last month.

It says a B.C. Ferries' employee was working on a ferry that was docked on the Fraser River in Richmond for maintenance on June 12, 2020.

The worker leaned onto a fabric webbing panel that broke away when he was trying to retrieve an item floating in the water and drowned.

The agency says the worker wasn't wearing a life jacket and the fabric panels were not sufficient to prevent him from falling into the water below.

CBC News reported at the time that the man had been working at the fleet maintenance unit. The incident happened around 11 p.m. on June 12, and his body was recovered a day later.

WorkSafeBC says B.C. Ferries had not developed safe work procedures to retrieve fallen objects from the water, and it failed to ensure the health and safety of its employees at the worksite.

"The firm also failed to provide its workers with the information, instruction, training and supervision necessary to ensure their health and safety. These were both high-risk violations," the WorkSafeBC statement says.

B.C. Ferries requests review of WorkSafeBC inspection

In a written statement, B.C. Ferries described the worker's death as "a devastating loss to the family, our colleague's co-workers and all employees."

The ferry corporation said it "immediately addressed areas of concern" after WorkSafeBC issued an inspection report in November 2021.

But the statement went on to say that B.C. Ferries has requested a review of the report.

"This will give B.C. Ferries access to the complete findings and provide a better understanding of how WorkSafeBC reached its decisions and where any further improvements can be made," it said.

"The request for a review process allows for B.C. Ferries to demonstrate reasonable precautions, safety policies and procedures and training were in place."

The statement said B.C. Ferries promptly paid the administrative penalty in May, but the corporation is still reviewing the decision and could appeal. A report from the B.C. coroner on the incident has yet to be released.

With files from CBC News