A contractor who reportedly did not follow a work plan by drilling three small holes is one reason why School District 83 wants WorkSafe BC to review its $200,000 fine of the district.
School District 83 (North Okanagan-Shuswap) issued a media release May 9 explaining the penalty was regarding a contractor who installed security shutters at Bastion Elementary in Salmon Arm following repeated vandalism.
“Superintendent of Schools Donna Kriger wants to reassure the Bastion School community that there was no potential threat to students and school-based staff as the work was being done over Winter Break,” said the release.
The school district noted part of the contract award process was a full review of a hazardous materials survey including information regarding the potential presence of asbestos. During planning and after the survey, the specific work plan was communicated to the contractor, the release said.
“Regrettably the external contractor did not adhere to the agreed work plan and undertook unauthorized work, which involved drilling three small holes (three-eights of an inch in diameter) in areas that were not properly assessed. As a result, a potentially serious incident occurred, and SD83 safe work procedures were not adhered to.
“A district trades person who had been assigned to the project immediately identified that the contractor had deviated from the agreed-to work plan. Senior Management was notified, immediate steps were taken to secure the area (including engaging a qualified hazardous material remediation contractor), and WorkSafe BC was informed.”
Samples from the drilled area were taken to a lab which found no asbestos had been disturbed.
“As an added precaution, both areas of potential exposure were contained and thoroughly cleaned by the qualified hazardous material remediation contractor,” the district reported.
On March 22, 2022, WorkSafe BC issued a penalty of $204,814.95 against the district, which it is appealing based on accuracy of evidence being relied upon by WorkSafe.
Nevertheless, School District 83 stated it’s clear additional steps are needed to prevent contractor noncompliance with district policy so it will review its safety management system.
“We apologize for any angst this has caused and intend to learn from this experience and improve our safety management systems,” said Kriger.
After a similar incident occurred at Silver Creek Elementary in 2019, the district created a health and safety coordinator position with Canadian Registered Safety Professional designation.
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