(BC Ferries/Twitter)

A major transportation company in British Columbia is facing a six-figure fine after one of its employees died on the job, WorkSafeBC says.

On May 11th, BC Ferries was ordered to pay $674,445 following a nearly two-year investigation into a worker’s drowning at its maintenance facility along the Fraser River in Richmond.

WorkSafeBC serves as the province’s workers’ compensation board and recalls the June 2020 incident, saying the worker was aboard a docked vessel and attempted to retrieve an item floating in the river while holding a pike pole.

As they leaned onto and over fabric webbing panels, the panels broke away, forcing the worker to plunge into the water below, an investigation report explains.

According to WorkSafeBC, the worker wasn’t wearing a personal flotation device and the webbing panels were “insufficient” at controlling a falling hazard.

“In addition, no safe work procedures had been developed for the task of retrieving objects fallen into the water,” a penalty summary states.

The investigation found BC Ferries breached two “high-risk violations,” including failing to ensure the health and safety of all workers at the worksite.

The company also “failed to provide its workers with the information, instruction, training, and supervision necessary to ensure their health and safety,” WorkSafeBC said.

In an emailed statement, BC Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall says the health and safety of employees is the company’s “number one priority.”

“We know that this tragedy has been a devastating loss to the family, our colleague’s co-workers and all employees,” Marshall told Victoria Buzz on Wednesday.

She says BC Ferries has “fully cooperated” with police and WorkSafeBC in their investigations and also “immediately addressed areas of concern” following the incident.

“We have requested a review of the WorkSafeBC report,” wrote Marshall.

“This will give BC 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.”

BC Ferries “promptly paid” the fine imposed, according to Marshall, who notes the company is now reviewing the decision and has the ability to appeal.

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