B.C.’s worker safety regulator says a series of vehicle incidents that led to a brief shutdown at the Site C dam worksite last week were minor and relatively common on wintertime construction sites.
WorkSafeBC officials confirmed Jan. 10 that they were aware of “several incidents that have occurred recently” at the dam site, involving rock trucks, heavy earth haulers and an excavator.
BC Hydro briefly paused work on the North Bank of the Peace River last week after what a spokesperson called a “series of minor vehicle incidents.” Work resumed later that day.
In an email, WorkSafeBC spokesperson Erica Simpson said BC Hydro was not required to report the incidents under the Workers Compensation Act.
“All were minor in scope and none involved any worker injuries,” WorkSafeBC spokesperson Erica Simpson said in an email. “These incidents took place over a period of time and none were immediately reportable to WorkSafeBC.”
Employers are required to report incidents that involve serious injury or death of a worker, a major structural failure, release of a hazardous substance, or fires and explosions. None of the incidents in question met those descriptions, Simpson said.
In winter and extreme cold conditions, equipment and vehicles often experience issues such as loss of traction, slipping off a road, sliding/skidding,” she wrote. “If an incident is minor in scope–not uncommon on a large civil construction project of this size and scope–it is not necessarily immediately reportable to (WorkSafe).”
“As with all projects of this scope and size, our officers inspect on a regular basis looking at health and safety program issues and operational compliance with health and safety during various phases of the construction process.”
Site C is an $8.8 billion hydroelectric project on the Peace River near Fort St. John. It is expected to flood around 83 kilometres of the Peace River Valley, and is among the largest infrastructure projects in B.C. history.
According to the project’s first annual report, there have been no serious injuries or fatalities on site. Contractors and employees have filed 194 “near miss” reports, 82 equipment or property damage reports and recorded three “lost time” incidents.