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Seaspan’s Esquimalt site hit with $710K fine over carbon monoxide poisoning

Shipbuilder failed to have a number of safety provisions in place, WorkSafeBC found
Seaspan was fined $710,000 after a worker sustained carbon monoxide poisoning at the Victoria Shipyards site. (Seaspan Victoria Shipyards photo)

Seaspan was ordered to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars earlier this year after a worker at the company's Victoria Shipyards location sustained carbon monoxide poisoning.

WorkSafeBC imposed the $710,489 fine on Seaspan in February as it flagged a number of high-risk safety violations at the Esquimalt site. 

The carbon monoxide poisoning occurred as a worker was conducting arc gouging inside a confined space on a ship, according to a description of the incident on WorkSafeBC's penalty database. Inspectors with the provincial safety agency who visited the site identified multiple deficiencies with Seaspan's confined space entry program. 

Seaspan describes its Victoria Shipyards as the leading ship repair and modernization facility on Canada's West Coast. The site offers drydocking and wet birth refit services for all types of vessels. 

WorkSafeBC said the shipbuilding firm failed to ensure a hazard assessment considered the design, use and work activity in the confined space where the worker was impacted. 

"The firm also failed to ensure confined space testing was carried out by a qualified person, that adequate test records were kept and that additional testing was conducted while a worker was inside the confined space," the safety agency wrote. "In addition, the firm failed to have a standby person stationed outside a confined space as required in the circumstances, and to ensure adequate personal protective equipment was selected and used."

In response to the incident, Seaspan says it remains committed to creating a safe workplace for all employees, contractors and visitors at its three shipyards. 

"Following the incident at Seaspan Victoria Shipyards last July, we have taken a number of actions to evaluate and improve our processes and safety culture," Seaspan Victoria Shipyards vice president Tony Winter said in a statement to Black Press Media. "We constantly review our safety programs and hold ourselves accountable to achieve a safety culture across our organization."

WorkSafeBC penalties fine employers for health and safety violations of B.C.'s Workers Compensation Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation, and for failure to take sufficient precautions to prevent workplace injuries or illnesses.  

About the Author: Greater Victoria News Staff

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