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N.B. coroner’s inquest makes sawmill safety recommendations

January 24, 2023  By CFI Staff

Female mill workers. Photo: Annex Business Media.

A jury at a coroner’s inquest has made recommendations to improve safety at sawmills.

An inquest into the death of Troy Bourque was held Jan. 16-17 at the Saint John Law Courts. Bourque died on Oct. 10, 2019, as a result of injuries sustained while working at Devon Lumber in Fredericton.

The five-member jury heard from 11 witnesses and made the following recommendations:

  • Establish formal weekly safety meetings and ongoing training with monthly worksite inspections.
  • Create a standard operating procedures manual that states procedures to be followed in the event of an accident, mechanical failure or maintenance.
  • Review where safety equipment and emergency stops are located and review standard operating procedures on a regular basis with all employees.

The presiding coroner recommended that WorkSafeNB should continue to focus on “lockout, tag-out” procedures during routine inspections at sawmill operations.


The chief coroner will forward these recommendations to the appropriate agencies for consideration and response. The response will be included in the chief coroner’s annual report for 2022.

An inquest is a formal court proceeding that allows for the public presentation of all evidence relating to a death. It does not make any finding of legal responsibility, nor does it assign blame. However, recommendations can be made, aimed at preventing deaths under similar circumstances in the future.

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