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Surrey employer fined $20K for knowingly exposing workers to asbestos

Vivesh Kochher is also prohibited from working with asbestos-containing materials for 3 years
(File photo: Black Press Media)

A Surrey drywall company employer has been fined $20,000 for knowingly exposing between 13 and 15 of his workers to asbestos-containing materials, failing to ensure their health and safety.

Vivesh Kochher, of AVR Drywall Recycling Ltd., was recently sentenced, according to a release from WorkSafeBC Wednesday (April 13).

He pleaded guilty in provincial court and was sentenced for offences under the Workers Compensation Act and Occupational Health and Safety Regulation, the release notes.

Along with his fine, plus a victim surcharge, Kochher is also prohibited from “owning or operating a waste transfer facility or any other business that involves the management, handling, or disposal of asbestos-containing material.”

WorkSafeBC says Kochher defied a stop-work order issued on Sept. 21, 2019 by a WorkSafeBC prevention officer “who inspected the site and found asbestos.”

The release adds that Kochher also brought in a third-party contractor on Nov. 11, a statutory holiday, “while the stop-work order was still in place, to remove the asbestos containing material and equipment.”

“Mr. Kochher did not advise the third-party contractor, or its workers of the presence of asbestos at the worksite, or that there was a stop-work order in place. The defendant did not provide the workers with any personal protective equipment, which is required when dealing with asbestos.”

Kochher, according to WorkSafeBC, “proceeded to voluntarily dissolve his company” following the infractions.

Google shows AVR Drywall Recycling Ltd. as “permanently closed.” It was located at 10619 Timberland Rd., along the Fraser River.

Charges were laid in November of 2021, the release adds.

There was a hearing in provincial court on March 2, 2022 and Kochher pleaded guilty that same month.

“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.

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Lauren Collins

About the Author: Lauren Collins

I'm a provincial reporter for Black Press Media's national team, after my journalism career took me across B.C. since I was 19 years old.
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