A BC man has plead guilty and was sentenced by the provincial court for knowingly exposing workers to asbestos.
Vivesh Kochher, the owner of Surrey-based AVR Drywall Recycling Ltd, pleaded guilty to charges under the Workers Compensation Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation.
He was ordered by court to pay $20,000 fine, plus a victim surcharge. He is also prohibited from owning or operating a waste transfer facility or any other business for three years that involves the management, handling, or disposal of asbestos-containing material.
An investigation by WorkSafeBC’s determined that Kochher failed to ensure the health and safety of between 13 and 15 workers, by knowingly exposing them to asbestos-containing material.
He also defied a WorkSafeBC stop-work order, which was issued on Sept. 21, 2019, by a WorkSafeBC Prevention Officer who inspected the site and found asbestos.
WorkSafeBC’s investigation recommended that charges be laid under the Workers Compensation Act and Occupational Health and Safety Regulation. Charges were laid in November 2021 and guilty pleas were entered in March 2022.
“More than half of all work-related fatalities are from occupational diseases, of which the majority are from exposure to asbestos,” said Al Johnson, Head of Prevention Services for WorkSafeBC.
“We cannot, and will not, tolerate employers endangering the lives of workers. There are profound consequences for this kind of egregious disregard for worker health and safety.”
Asbestos is the number one killer of workers in B.C. In the last 10 years, there were approximately 600 accepted claims for work-related deaths in B.C. because of asbestos exposure.