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$1,500 fine for flicking

Jason Unrau
Northern News Services

Inuvik (June 03/05) - Operations Manager Terry Rafferty was fined $1,500 after he pleaded guilty to one count of endangering the safety of employees during an incident at the Inuvik power generation facility on April 27.

At that time, Rafferty, along with some other power corp. employees, was conducting a tour of the K-Plant, which was slated for renovation.

The group had a disagreement about the nature of a particular substance, which was thought by some to be asbestos. Rafferty, who disagreed, took a piece of material from a small hole in the insulation of a fuel tank marked asbestos and flicked it at members of the group.

After an analysis of the substance proved it was asbestos, Rafferty was charged with one count of "failing to take reasonable measures to ensure safety on the jobsite" and one count of "endangering the safety of employees," both under Section 22 of the NWT Safety Act. In court proceedings Monday, the WCB withdrew the first charge against Rafferty.

"I was getting a hard time from engineers on the site about cost overruns," Rafferty explained to the court, noting that his actions were born of frustration and that he was never notified that the substance in question was indeed asbestos.

"As a result, the power corporation did investigate and I was suspended for five days," he said.

The maximum fine for these charges for an individual under the NWT Safety Act is $50,000.

Though the WCB was not seeking redress from the power corp. itself, the maximum fine for charges of this nature with respect to industry is $200,000.

Crown counsel Brent Lepage did not seek the maximum fine, but he wanted the court to "send a message" that this kind of behaviour was unacceptable.

Due diligence

In reaching his decision, Justice Robert D. Gorin took into consideration Rafferty's willingness to plead guilty "quite readily," as well as his five-day suspension, handed down by the power corp.

"I believe that Terry Rafferty didn't know what it was he was tossing around," said McFarlane. "But he did not show due diligence."

WCB Senior Safety Officer for the region Bill Wong and Yellowknife colleague Bruce Graney were on hand for the decision and had no comment following the case.

When asked why employees were allowed to wander freely in an area where asbestos could be easily accessed, Wong responded with the following statement: "As long as asbestos is not disturbed, as Rafferty admitted to doing, then it is not a danger to anyone."