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HomeMiscellanyExclusive: TransLink slapped with huge fine after SkyTrain electrician injured

Exclusive: TransLink slapped with huge fine after SkyTrain electrician injured

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Bob Mackin

Less than a week before Christmas, TransLink was fined more than $607,000 because a worker was seriously injured in an electrical explosion at a SkyTrain station last spring, theBreaker has learned.

theBreaker has also learned that SkyTrain’s director of health, safety, training and environment was terminated on Jan. 8. 

WorkSafeBC found B.C. Rapid Transit Company (BCRTC), the division that operates SkyTrain, broke two Occupational Health and Safety regulations, regarding de-energization and lockout, and the section of the Workers Compensation Act that requires employers to train, instruct and supervise workers to ensure their safety. 

Nanaimo SkyTrain Station (Google)

During passenger operating hours around 11:30 a.m. on May 26, 2017, an electrician was pulling a circuit into the main panel at Nanaimo Station when a mishap occurred and an arc flash was created. A source told theBreaker it was extinguished by BC Hydro fuses blowing. The worker suffered burns, but has fully recovered. 

WorkSafeBC’s Dec. 19, 2017 administrative penalty order for $607,497.56 said BCRTC failed to take sufficient precautions for the prevention of work-related injuries; has not complied with sections of the Act and Regulation; has not maintained a safe workplace or safe working conditions; and did not exercise due diligence to prevent the incident.

The fine was, unofficially, the fourth-biggest levied by WorkSafeBC in 2017. 

theBreaker sought comment from SkyTrain general manager Vivienne King. In an emailed statement, TransLink told theBreaker that it has filed a request for a review of the fine. 

The SkyTrain division, according to the prepared statement, “immediately reviewed and adjusted relevant practices and procedures, and ensured staff were made aware of the changes.”

The statement said power technicians were briefed about the incident and the changes to policies and procedures. They were also provided a reminder of hazards control hierarchy, step back and hazard awareness.

‘[We] are continuing to assess safety procedures department-wide, as well as enhancing our written and documentation procedures,” the statement said. “BCRTC is committed to continuing to work with WorkSafeBC to make sure a high standard of safety is achieved for all staff.”

It was not the first incident involving an electrician working on a system critical panel during passenger operating hours. 

During midday July 21, 2014, the Expo and Millennium lines suffered a massive outage for five hours after an unsupervised electrician used a non-insulated screwdriver on a panel. 

“Although standard operating procedures did not restrict this from occurring during operating hours, they also did not state that it could occur during operating hours,” said a report on the two July 2014 service outages.

Natalia Skapski, the director of health, safety, training and environment, was replaced Jan. 8 on an interim basis by Eva Kaczmarczyk, who was manager of safety, environment and emergency management.

Neither King nor TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond responded to theBreaker’s email. The media relations department would not answer questions about the reason for the shakeup or the severance amount for Skapski. 

“As this is an internal personnel matter, we are unable to provide any comment at this time,” said an emailed statement from TransLink.

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