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.

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

Just Posted

Penticton Vees on four-game streak after 2-1 win against Salmon Arm Silverbacks

The Vees head to West Kelowna Tuesday, before coming home Friday to battle the Merritt Centennials.

Update: Individual successfully rescued from hills above Penticton

An individual became stranded earlier this morning.

First VegFest of the South Okanagan coming to Penticton

The festival is scheduled for Aug. 23, with speakers and entertainment all day.

Priest Camp near Summerland was created in 1845

Agreement formed between Grand Chief Nicola (1793-1859) and Father Giovanni Nobili (1812-1856)

After cashing in on QB gambles, Chiefs and 49ers to clash in Super Bowl

KC beats Tennessee, San Francisco dispatches Green Bay to reach NFL title game

B.C. VIEWS: Few clouds on Horgan’s horizon

Horgan’s biggest challenge in the remainder of his term will be to keep the economy humming along

Kelowna’s Tess Critchlow gears up for World Cup at Big White

Critchlow is a professional snowboarder competing for Team Canada in the boardercross competition

Victoria family focuses on ‘letting go, enjoying time together’ after dad gets dementia

Walter Strauss has developed an interest in music and now takes line dancing classes

B.C. forest industry grasps for hope amid seven-month strike, shutdowns, changes

Some experts say this could be worse for forestry than the 2008 financial crisis

Northern B.C. RCMP investigating alleged sexual assault in downtown Smithers

One person was transported by ambulance to hospital following RCMP investigation at Sedaz

UBC, Iranian-Canadian community create memorial scholarship in honour of victims

The Jan. 8 crash killed 176 people, including 57 Canadians

Disrespectful that Horgan won’t meet during northern B.C. tour: hereditary chief

Na’moks said he was frustrated Horgan didn’t meet with the chiefs

Most Read