No lawyer was listed on the Prince Rupert Law Court Services Docket for the first appearance of Wainwright Marine Services Ltd. and James Geoffrey Bates on March 15.
Bates and the tugboat company were due in court to answer to eight charges each in the Ingenika tugboat sinking that claimed the lives of Prince Rupert crew members Troy Pearson and Charley Cragg in the midnight hours of Feb. 10, 2021. The tug capsized and sank during inclement weather in the Garnder Canal near Kitimat.
A first appearance is an opportunity to enter a plea to charges laid. The accused and their counsel have the provision to video conference into the courtroom and do not need to attend in person.
The marine company, jointly with Bates as the employer and/or a director of the employer, was ordered to attend court to speak to the criminal charges brought under the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, B.C. Workers Compensation Act and the Canada Criminal Code.
The charges laid by the RCMP and filed in court on Jan. 6, include: failure to ensure health and safety of workers; failure to maintain protective equipment, devices or clothing in good condition; failure to ensure pieces of equipment … were capable of performing the functions which they were capable of; failure to ensure that piece of equipment … were operated, tested and maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions; failure to provide their workers with the information, instructional training and supervision necessary to ensure the health and safety of the workers carrying out their work; failure to ensure young or new workers were given heal and safety orientation or training specific to the use or personal protective equipment in their workplace … and failed to document such orientation or training; failure to develop and implement appropriate written procedures for a workplace on or over water and in which need to rescue or evacuare workers may arise and failure to hold annual drills to ensure awareness of emergency procedures and/or to ensure that a record of such drills was kept .
Last week, on March 8, the Transportation Safety Board issued four recommendations at regulating tugs of 15 gross tonnage or less including: Transport Canada begin regular inspections of tugs of 15 gross tonnage or less to ensure they are following regulatory requirements; Transport Canada requires tugboat owners to assess the risks of all the different operations their vessels may take on; The Pacific Pilotage Authority verifies tugs meet safety requirements before issuing pilotage waivers to owners; Pacific Pilotage Authority create a process to verify ongoing compliance with pilotage waiver conditions.
The TSB recommendations were made public a month to the day after the 16 charges against the marine towing company and Bates were announced, including fines of up to $777,000.
K-J Millar | Editor and Multimedia Journalist
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