OHS Canada Magazine

Former BC premier implicated in accident

HALFMOON BAY, BC (Canadian OH&S News)


HALFMOON BAY, BC (Canadian OH&S News)

The former premier of British Columbia has been named the prime contractor in a WorkSafeBC investigation report into a workplace fatality at his summer vacation home last year.

On July 4, four workers from Sechelt, BC-based Weather Tight Supplies Ltd were replacing the roof of the Halfmoon Bay home, owned by Gordon Campbell, who served as premier from 2001 to 2011. Shortly after 12:30 pm, after removing a skylight and covering the approximately one square metre opening in the flat roof with a sheet of polyethylene, a worker stepped backwards and fell through the temporary covering. He fell over five metres to the floor below (COHSN, July 18, 2011).

The worker sustained unspecified injuries and was taken to hospital, but died the next day. The worker had been wearing fall protection, but was not tied off to an anchor point, the investigation report says.

In lieu of any written agreement between the homeowner and another party, Campbell became the prime contractor for the project, the report says. Though his wife is the owner of the home, Campbell is considered an owner under the Workers Compensation Act (WCA) because he was acting as his wife’s agent for the renovation.

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As such, the report states Campbell should have ensured workers’ activities relating to health and safety were co-ordinated and in compliance with the WCA. As well, a risk assessment should have been done, which would include a written fall protection plan.

“The homeowner was not aware he was the prime contractor at the workplace or what those responsibilities involved. The homeowner did not meet the responsibilities the prime contractor has to adequately co-ordinate health and safety activities at this workplace or to establish and maintain a system to ensure compliance with the [WCA] and [Occupational Health and Safety] Regulation,” the report states. “There was no discussion of health and safety with subcontractors or of how the activities of one trade would affect another.”

The report concludes that the unguarded roof opening, unused fall protection, the employer’s failure to establish safe work procedures around roof openings and inadequate supervision and enforcement, as well as a lack of co-ordination of health and safety activities, all contributed to the fatal incident.