Skip to main content

Repeated WorkSafeBC violations lead to $25K fine, jail time for construction company boss

A home in Abbotsford, B.C. is seen under construction in 2017 in this photo from G & D Construction Ltd.'s Facebook page. (Facebook/G & D Construction Ltd.) A home in Abbotsford, B.C. is seen under construction in 2017 in this photo from G & D Construction Ltd.'s Facebook page. (Facebook/G & D Construction Ltd.)

A B.C. construction company has been fined $25,000 and its principal sentenced to 14 days in jail for continuing to violate the province's Workers Compensation Act despite two previous court decisions against them.

In a decision issued May 18 and posted online Thursday, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Sheila Tucker found G & D Construction Ltd. and Dalwinder Singh Kandola in contempt of court.

It's the second time the company and its director have been found in contempt for violating a 2017 court order requiring them to comply with the act.

The first contempt finding came in November 2020 and resulted in fines of $4,000 to both Kandola and the company.

The latest court decision came as a result of violations observed by WorkSafeBC inspectors at G & D construction sites in Surrey and Mission last year.

At the Surrey site, which an occupational safety officer visited on Jan. 5, 2021, WorkSafeBC noted the following violations of the Workers Compensation Act and related regulations, according to Tucker's decision:

  • Two workers – one of whom was Kandola – were working from roof trusses without ladders or work platforms in place to minimize falling risk;
  • A temporary stairway to the second floor lacked a mid-rail;
  • There were several accessible second-floor areas without guards or guard rails in place to prevent falls to lower areas; and
  • A worker was operating a self-propelled elevating work platform without having completed the formal training required to operate it.

An officer visited the Mission site on Oct. 6, 2021 and found the following violations, Tucker wrote:

  • Using temporary floors that did not meet requirements;
  • Using a job-built wood ladder that did not meet (WorkSafeBC) standards;
  • Two workers, working under the direction of a GDCL supervisor, were observed on the building roof. Although the workers were wearing fall harnesses, the harnesses were unsecured (i.e., not attached to fall protection anchors or lifelines). One worker was exposed to a measured fall hazard in excess of 21 feet, while the other was exposed to an estimated fall hazard of 10 to 12 feet;
  • There were rough second-level window openings that were: more than 12 feet above the ground, had sills less than 40 inches above the subfloor, and lacked guards and guardrails; and
  • Using temporary wood scaffolding to provide access to the second floor. The scaffolds in use did not meet (WorkSafeBC) standards, had a measured fall distance of about 12 feet, and lacked guards and guardrails.

Kandola and G & D conceded that this conduct occurred, and that it was a violation of the 2017 court order against them, according to Tucker's decision.

In his defence, Kandola noted that he and the company had paid all the previous fines against them, including administrative penalties related to the violations at the Surrey and Mission sites.

He also argued that none of his workers had filed any workers' compensation claims, and that the company completed framing work on nine residential construction projects during 2021, and was only penalized for violations related to two of them.

Tucker was not persuaded by his arguments.

"While the respondents conceded the breaches before me and took responsibility for them in that limited sense, no remorse was expressed," the judge wrote.

"Further, the respondents wrongly characterize the breaches as minor in number and severity. The argument that GDCL was 'only' found in contemptuous breach of the 2017 order at two of nine total 2021 project sites demonstrates a failure to grasp the significance of the misconduct at issue."

She also noted that the 2021 infractions were the same as or "very similar" to those that resulted in the previous contempt finding and the 2017 order.

"The fact that the breaches continue to involve conduct of similar kind and similar risk speaks to the measure of defiance involved," Tucker wrote.

"The evidence before me indicates that no genuine shift in attitude had taken place. Following (the previous) decisions, the respondents continued to view the fines imposed for its unsafe practices as an acceptable trade-off for the project efficiencies it gained thereby."

For this reason, Tucker concluded that a "step up" in punishment was necessary. She ordered the company to pay a $25,000 fine, due within 60 days, and sentenced Kandola to 14 days of incarceration.

WorkSafeBC initially petitioned the court for an order prohibiting Kandola and G & D from continuing to operate their business, but it dropped that petition at the hearing on the case, Tucker wrote. Top Stories

Here is Canada's unseasonably mild December forecast

December is predicted to be unseasonably mild across Canada, thanks to a "moderate-to-strong" El Nino and human-caused warming. Warming and precipitation trends will be stronger in some parts of the country than others, and severe weather is still possible, meteorologists say.

Stay Connected