Safety scoffers to pay dearly

Yukoners should soon be hurting themselves less thanks to a new round of workplace safety fines. Starting July 1, Yukon workers caught without proper workplace-safety equipment will be instantly slapped with a $50 fine.

Yukoners should soon be hurting themselves less thanks to a new round of workplace safety fines.

Starting July 1, Yukon workers caught without proper workplace-safety equipment will be instantly slapped with a $50 fine.

“For example, a carpenter is not using proper hearing protection while they’re working with a circular saw, automatic $50 fine,” said Mark Hill, spokesperson for the Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health & Safety Board.

“Enough is enough,” said Kurt Dieckmann, director of occupational health and safety in an official release.

“Some Yukon employers, supervisors and workers believe safety precautions … (are) a matter of personal choice,” read a May release by the board.

“In fact, these and all OH&S Regulations are the law.”

Previously, Yukon workers caught without proper equipment would simply be slapped with a compliance order.

“It’s not like it was tolerated before,” said Hill.

The order told workers what they did wrong and gave them a deadline to fix it—but would issue no fine.

Not only will workers now face a $50 fine—but their supervisors will have to pay $250.

Both the worker and the supervisor will then have to complete an online “personal protective equipment” course.

If an employer failed to provide proper safety equipment, they’ll be forced to a pay a minimum of $500.

“It’s, ‘You know what? You know this stuff; you’re choosing not to do it, here’s the fine,’” said Hill.

Basic protective equipment is defined as everything ranging from steel-toed boots to safety vests, to head, respiratory, hand and eye protection.

Suitable equipment varies from worksite to worksite.

Safe employers welcomed the regulatory change.

No matter how prudent a company’s safety practices, they may still find themselves saddled with high premiums resulting from injuries suffered by their unsafe competitors.

“You see employers who are doing everything right, and they’re frustrated because their rates are reflecting others in their industry that are not being as cautious,” said Hill.

The new fines should help to level the playing field.

Almost 700 Yukon workers have been injured on the job in 2009, imposing “several hundred thousand dollars in avoidable costs” to the board, said president and CEO Valerie Royle in a release.

Continued workplace injuries are “a source of frustration” for the Worker’s Compensation Board, said Hill.

“Despite all the publicity, we still see far too many workplaces where preventing injuries is not being taken seriously,” said Dieckmann in a release.

“You’re seeing people getting hurt and dealing with the consequences of injuries that were easily preventable,” said Hill.

“This is basic stuff; do what you’re supposed to do.”

Contact Tristin Hopper at

tristinh@yukon-news.com

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