VANCOUVER - WorkSafeBC imposed penalties for safety violations totalling $2.9 million last year, with the biggest single fine against Vancouver Canucks co-owner Francesco Aquilini and his family for failing to maintain some vehicles on their blueberry farm.

It was the second violation issued since 2011 for Aquilini, his brother and his mother, and amounted to a $125,000 fine for unsafe vehicles used to transport workers at their Pitt Meadows business.

The penalties imposed in 2011 came to $126,000, said WorkSafeBC spokesman Al Johnson.

"There was a situation that led to an inspection at the work site, and out of that inspection it was determined that the firm failed to maintain the operating condition of the farm vehicle, putting workers at risk," he said. "And this was also a repeated violation."'

Johnson said the Aquilinis appealed the 2011 penalties and after they were upheld, the family appealed to the Workers' Compensation Appeal Tribunal.

"We expect in June, to hear about those," he said. "To the best of our knowledge they have not appealed the 2012 penalty."

Burnaby company Skylite Building Maintenance Ltd., was handed the largest penalty of $227,500 for three separate violations over repeatedly exposing workers to asbestos.

WorkSafeBC spokeswoman Alexandra Skinner-Reynolds said Skylite now operates under the name Seattle Environmental.

A total of 225 employers were fined last year, involving six fatalities, and 85 per cent of the companies were in the construction sector.

The maximum fine under the Workers Compensation Act is adjusted every year, and for 2012 it was $596,000.

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