This story has been updated to reflect new information from WorkSafeBC.
The B.C. work safety regulator has found grounds for imposing a penalty or citation on a Penticton car dealership determined to have violated of two work safety regulations at the time when a man was fatally pinned between two vehicles last spring.
The latest WorkSafeBC inspection report, provided to the Western News by WorkSafe media relations, on Skaha Ford, filed on May 14, found two orders still outstanding at the site, with action required.
“Based upon the violation(s) cited in this inspection report (and any previous relevant violations) WorkSafeBC has determined that there are grounds for imposing an administrative penalty and/or OHS (Occupational Health and Safety) Citation,” the May 14 report reads.
That report was filed about half a month prior to the conclusion of an investigation into the death of Quin Cormier at Skaha Ford in a workplace incident.
WorkSafeBC completed its report, obtained by the Western News through a freedom of information request, on May 29, over a year after Quin Cormier was killed in a workplace incident at Skaha Ford.
On April 28, 2017, a technician at Skaha Ford had been working on a Ford Escape, replacing the front brake pads among other items. However, the owner of another vehicle had been waiting for over an hour, so the technician wanted to return to that vehicle.
The technician asked a service worker, a new and young worker who had been largely shadowing other workers and performing minor duties, to move the Escape. However, the service worker had not been instructed “to pump the brake pedal to reposition the brake pads against the rotors,” the report said.
When the young worker began to move the vehicle, the brake pedal went to the floor, and the vehicle struck Cormier, who was facing away from the Escape, pinning him against another vehicle. Employees performed CPR on Cormier until the arrival of paramedics, who were unable to save him.
According to the report, the worksite had inadequate supervision for the new worker and an inadequate safety management system.
“During the investigation, WorkSafeBC issued (an inspection report) to Skaha Ford Inc. This inspection report describes two violations of the Workers Compensation Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation,” reads the May 29 report, penned by lead investigator Andy MacLean.
That includes failure to provide adequate information, instruction, training and supervision, per the act, and failure to provide safe work procedures for pedestrian and equipment traffic, per the regulation.
“The technician asked the new and young worker to perform a task that was beyond his capabilities. The new and young worker (redacted) was not provided adequate orientation, training, and supervision,” the report reads.
“The supervisor was not aware of the activities of the technician or the inexperienced worker at the time of the incident.
“The employer had created a description of a health and safety committee, but it was never implemented. There were no documented workplace inspections to identify hazards and address them.”
A manager at Skaha Ford said despite the violations asserted in the report the dealership was cleared of work safety violations. However, a WorkSafeBC spokesperson sent the Western News the regulatory body’s latest inspection report at the car dealership, dated May 14, which found outstanding issues at the dealership related to the April 2017 incident.
That report called for Skaha Ford to provide “adequate safe work procedures to minimize the possibility of collision … in hazardous work areas” to be compliant with the OHS violation.
It also called for the dealership to “provide to the employer’s workers the information, instruction, training and supervision necessary to ensure the health and safety of those workers in carrying out their work and to ensure the health and safety of other workers at the work place.”
If WorkSafe is satisfied, that measure would then ensure Skaha Ford’s compliance with the Workers Compensation Act.
Skaha Ford general manager David Nigh declined to comment on the incident but said there have been measures taken to reduce hazards at the location. That includes honking whenever a vehicle is backing up — something he said has not been the norm in any mechanic shop, but Nigh said is now the rule at the Skaha Ford shop.
Since the incident, as well, the health and safety committee was implemented and meets monthly, said Nigh.
“It’s active and we meet monthly to make sure if there are weak points we pick out throughout the day that things are addressed,” Nigh said.
Nigh declined to comment further on what actions have been taken, saying he would need his service manager to comment on that. The service manager declined to comment on the record.
A WorkSafeBC spokesperson could not comment on whether penalties would be sought in this case, but pointed to a media backgrounder document on the regulatory body’s website. That document, which deals with administrative penalties, notes a maximum fine of just under $650,000.
The regulator takes into account factors like the employer’s history with violations — no previous offences turn up on a search of the WorkSafeBC website for Skaha Ford — the nature of the violation and the size of the employer’s payroll.
If WorkSafe is seeking a penalty, it is not yet clear what that penalty would be.
On the anniversary of the incident, Nigh said the dealership held a moment of silence for Cormier and some of the employees in the shop got up to speak.
“There’s obviously been a long grieving over this, and we have a close-knit bunch back there, and they’re doing well,” Nigh said. “There’s been awareness, things we’ve done to hopefully prevent this again.”
At the time of the incident, a GoFundMe campaign was set up for Cormier’s family, raising $9,040 — nearly doubling the $5,000 goal set for the campaign.