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BC assessing worker safety recommendations after sawmill explosions


May 7, 2019
By Ellen Cools
Ellen Cools

The B.C. Ministry of Labour is reviewing how WorkSafeBC implemented worker safety recommendations in the wake of explosions at Babine Forest Products in Burn Lake, B.C., and Lakeland Mills in Prince George, B.C., in 2012.

The explosions resulted in the death of four workers and injured 42 others.

According to CBC News, the Ministry has contracted lawyer Lisa Helps as part of the review. She will provide a report to the attorney general in mid-July, which will include advice on potential legislative changes to improve worker safety.

WorkSafeBC (also known as the Workers’ Compensation Board)’s investigation into the explosion at Babine concluded that an accumulation of wood dust played a critical role in the explosion, which killed two, injured 19 and flattened the mill, reports CBC News. The coroner’s inquests into the deaths in 2014 ruled it was accidental.

Steve Hunt, district director for the United Steelworkers union, which represents the four workers who died in the explosions, said the previous inquires into the incident were ‘botched.’

“The two biggest investigations in the Worker’s Compensation Board’s history were both botched so badly that they couldn’t prosecute either criminally or through regulation or through the act,” he told CBC News. “They failed to take reasonable care to ensure people who might be subject to court proceeding were read their rights.”

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