Police at explosion and fire that killed two workers at Babine Forest Products sawmill, Burns Lake B.C., Jan. 20, 2012. (Laura Blackwell/Lakes District News)

Police at explosion and fire that killed two workers at Babine Forest Products sawmill, Burns Lake B.C., Jan. 20, 2012. (Laura Blackwell/Lakes District News)

WorkSafeBC changes called for after B.C. sawmill explosions

Investigation powers recommended for fatal industrial incidents like Burns Lake

WorkSafeBC should have a separate investigations unit for incidents like the fatal sawmill explosions that killed four workers in Burns Lake and Prince George in 2012, according to the B.C. government’s latest independent review.

The two explosions have been exhaustively studied, with both determined to have been triggered by accumulated wood dust from high-volume milling of dry trees killed by mountain pine beetle infestation. Two mill workers died in the Babine Forest Products mill in Burns Lake Jan. 20, 2012, and two more died in a similar blast and fire at Lakeland Mills in Prince George on April 24 of that year.

The B.C. government hired Vancouver lawyer Lisa Helps earlier this year to follow up on two previous probes by the province into the circumstances and WorkSafeBC response. Improved inspections and better enforcement of dust cleaning were key recommendations in the years after the fatalities.

RELATED: Babine mill owners pay $1.1 million penalty for 2012 blast

RELATED: WorkSafeBC concludes wood dust caused fatal explosion

Helps recommended that WorkSafeBC restructure its fatal and serious incident investigation team from two teams to one. Other key recommendations include:

• The B.C. government should amend the Workers Compensation Act to include search and seizure authority. Currently WorkSafeBC investigators must apply for a search warrant under the Offence Act.

• The B.C. government should amend its occupational health and safety regulations to strengthen worker protections around the right to refuse unsafe work.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislature

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sonia Furstenau
Sonia Furstenau column: MLA vows to keep up the fight

COVID-19 continues to strain our communities

Heating cable laid in the cold frame, awaiting the layer of sand. (Mary Lowther photo)
Mary Lowther column: Greenhouse growing in the winter

I have a heating cable I’ve never used that I’m contemplating putting to work in the cold frame

Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement forecasting windy weather Sunday and Monday. (News Bulletin file photo)
More windy weather on the way for Vancouver Island

Environment Canada issues special weather statement for Victoria, east coast of Island, north Island

Sarah Simpson
Sarah Simpson Column: If you don’t have anything nice to say…

Dear Sarah, the letter began. I hope you mail a note from… Continue reading

Bhagwan Mayer. (Photo submitted)
Organizer of transporting the World’s Largest Hockey Stick to Cowichan remembered

Bhagwan Mayer a “hard-working fellow who cared about his community.”

Mary Cox and Jack Plant dance in their pyjamas and slippers at the morning pyjama dance during the Rhythm Reelers’ 25 Annual Rally in the Valley Square Dance Festival in Chilliwack on June 4, 2011. Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 is Square Dancing Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Nov. 29 to Dec. 5

Square Dancing Day, Disability Day and International Ninja Day are all coming up this week

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Kevin Bieksa during his days playing with the Vancouver Canucks. (Photo: commons.wikimedia.org)
Bieksa to guest on free Canucks Alumni ‘Hot Stove’ on Zoom app

Former NHL player has become a game analyst on Sportsnet

A small crash in the water south of Courtenay Saturday afternoon. Two men had to be rescued, but reports indicate there were no serious injuries. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Small plane crash in Comox Valley waters Saturday afternoon

Two rescued from plane that had flipped in water; no serious injuries reported

A photo from 2017, of Nuchatlaht First Nation members outside court after filing a land title case in B.C. ( Submitted photo/Nuchatlaht First Nation).
Vancouver Island First Nation calls on B.C. to honour UNDRIP in historic title case

Nuchatlaht First Nation says Crown counsel continues to stall the case using the ‘distasteful’ argument that the Nation ‘abandoned’ their land

West Vancouver Island’s Ehattesaht First Nation continues lock down after 9 active cases were reported today after a visitor tested positive last week. (Ehattesaht First Nation/Facebook)
Ehattesaht First Nation’s COVID-19 nightmare: nine active cases, a storm and a power outage

The Vancouver Island First Nation in a lockdown since the first case was reported last week

114 Canadians were appointed Nov. 27 to the Order of Canada. (Governor General of Canada photo)
Indigenous actor, author, elder, leaders appointed to Order of Canada

Outstanding achievement, community dedication and service recognized

The Ahousaht First Nation confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on Nov. 26, 2020. (Westerly file photo)
Ahousaht First Nation on lockdown over COVID-19

“Emotions are high. The anxiety is high. We want our community to pull through.”

Most Read