Port Alice mill fined for unsafe practices

A Port Alice mill was among nearly 50 B.C. businesses to be slapped with fines for unsafe work practices, but the company plans to appeal.

A Port Alice mill  was among nearly 50 B.C. businesses to be slapped with fines for unsafe work practices, but the company plans to appeal.

Neucel Specialty Cellulose Ltd. was fined $75,000 stemming from a March 11 incident in which two men were injured while working.

The workers were dismantling a portion of a wall when it unexpectedly collapsed.

Both suffered minor injuries as a result of the falling debris.

WorkSafeBC said workers at the site may have been exposed to airborne health hazards from fibres from the asbestos-containing wallboard panels that fell to the ground, the watchdog organization said in a written report.

The mill also failed to adequately inform, instruct, train, and supervise its workers to ensure their health and safety during the demolition work, according to a release in the Work Safe magazine.

The penalty amount is based on the nature of the violation, the employer’s compliance history, and the employer’s assessable payroll. Neucel was one of 47 B.C. companies fined during the last quarter.

Mill manager Tony Wong said Neucel is appealing the fines.

“The government is actually helping us with the appeal,” he said.

“The Ministry of Labour has given us a lawyer to spearhead the process for us and we feel we definitely have grounds to appeal.”

Once a penalty is imposed, the employer has 90 days to appeal to the review division of WorkSafeBC.

The division may maintain, reduce or withdraw the penalty and, alternately, it may increase the penalty as well.

Employers may then file an appeal within 30 days of the review division’s decision to the Workers’ Compensation Appeal tribunal, an independent appeal body