School district fined $628,034 over material containing asbestos

VERNON, B.C. – The Vernon School District has been ordered to pay a fine of $628,034.57, following renovation of property that turned out to have asbestos-containing materials in it. According to an April 18 news release from the District, the renovation work was conducted last May on property leased by the school board as the future site of its Open Door Learning Centre. WorkSafeBC later determined that the District had not taken sufficient precautions to prevent worker injury or illness, exercised due diligence in preventing the asbestos exposure or maintained safe working conditions. “The District is very disappointed in WorkSafeBC’s decision,” read the release, calling the penalty “excessive” and adding that the landlord of the property had not informed the school board that asbestos-containing material was present. “The District has developed and implemented a comprehensive and fully compliant asbestos-management program… and has undertaken comprehensive asbestos training of its maintenance workers.” The District stated that it had taken “all reasonable steps” to comply with all asbestos-hazard-mitigation requirements and would be working with its lawyers to review the fine.

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