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WorkSafeBC fines contractor less than $4K after worker's death in former Cineplex collapse

"No penalty amount or sentence can compensate for the loss of life," WorkSafeBC says.
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WorksSafeBC has concluded its investigation into the fatal collapse of a floor at the North Vancouver Cineplex site as it was undergoing demolition for redevelopment, Aug. 25, 2021. The contractor has been fined less than $4,000. | Pat Bell

WorkSafeBC has handed down an administrative fine of just under $4,000 to the company responsible for numerous safety violations that led to the death of a worker in the collapse of the former Cineplex building in Lower Lonsdale.

0987762 B.C. Ltd., a numbered company doing business as Done Right Demolition and Disposal, was fined $3,830 in November, according to an update posted last week by WorkSafeBC.

Done Right Demolition and Disposal had been hired to demolish the former theatre on West Esplanade, prior to the Aug. 25, 2021 incident.

As work began, contractors on site found the arm of their excavator wasn’t quite long enough to reach the top of the second-floor wall, so they created ramps and pads out of demolition debris to bring the heavy equipment within reach, WorkSafeBC’s investigation found.

The excess weight contributed to the floor’s collapse, causing the excavator to fall 7.9 metres (26 feet) to the ground-level floor below. The worker in the excavator survived but with serious injuries. The foreman, a woman who was using a hose to suppress demolition dust, was killed and her body became trapped in rubble.

WorkSafeBC’s investigation found the Done Right’s demolition plan had not been communicated to workers and was unclear. The worksite was also lacking oversight that could have prevented the fatality, they found.

In their investigation, the agency noted that the company did not follow their structural engineer’s instructions to remove all demolition debris from the site, as the load weights deemed to be safe were calculated based on the weight of the excavator alone.

“The firm failed to ensure structures to be demolished were supported as prescribed by a professional engineer, a repeated violation, and as prime contractor, failed to do everything reasonable to establish and maintain a system of regulatory compliance,” WorkSafeBC summarized. “These were both high-risk violations. The firm also failed to provide its workers with the information, instruction, training, and supervision necessary to ensure their health and safety. “

Done Right Demolition and Disposal’s website is still live, however the email address and phone number associated with the company have both been deactivated.

Cineplex closed the Esplanade theatre in March 2019. In November 2020, City of North Vancouver council approved Cressy Development and First Capital Realty's request to rezone the property for a nine-storey, 75-unit rental building.

WorkSafeBC did not make anyone available for an interview, however the agency did release a statement addressing the penalty.

“No penalty amount or sentence can compensate for the loss of life. The amounts are primarily based on the payroll of the employer, but also on the nature of the violation and the history of violations (e.g., repeat violations can increase the size of the penalty). A penalty is a regulatory tool to motivate employers to follow occupational health and safety requirements, but it is not meant as a means of punishment, since no amount could ever reflect something as tragic as a loss of life.”

The name of the victim has never been released.

Other penalties handed down to firms doing business on the North Shore in 2023 included a $43,359-fine for VPAC construction Group Ltd. after an inspection found numerous safety deficiencies including missing or improperly constructed guardrails in fall risk areas, unguarded table saws, and missing handrails on multiple stairways.

Another $10,000 penalty was issued to Ace Roofing Ltd. after an inspector spotted two workers on the roof wearing fall protection harnesses but not connected to lifelines.

Diamond 11 Excavating and Demolition was fined $2,500 twice – once after a residential excavation site’s lock-block structure was found to by partially collapsed and not built in accordance with an engineer’s instructions. Their second fine came after inspectors found evidence that work continued on the job site despite a stop work order.

brichter@nsnews.com

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