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

Quesnel RCMP investigating hit and run on Quesnel River Bridge

Bridge traffic reduced to single lane alternating

B.C. First Nation hopes to offer new visitor experiences in 2021

Travellers reminded to check for updates on access to Title Lands if visiting this summer

Local war hero ceberating 100 years of life

Derek Beningfield records his grandfather’s history ahead of his 100th birthday on July 14

Editorial: Thanks for the memories

Sasha Sefter says farewell to our readers

B.C. records 62 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths since Friday

Province has just over 200 active cases

Hotel rooms for B.C. homeless too hasty, NDP government told

Businesses forced out, but crime goes down, minister says

Wage subsidy will be extended until December amid post-COVID reopening: Trudeau

Trudeau said the extension will ‘give greater certainty and support to businesses’

B.C. government prepares for COVID-19 economic recovery efforts

New measures after July consultation, Carole James says

Tree planters get help with COVID-19 protective measures

Ottawa funds extra transportation, sanitizing for crews

Trudeau apologizes for not recusing himself from WE decision

He says his and his family’s longtime involvement with the WE organization should have kept him out of the discussions

Beverly Hills 90210 star’s family selling Vancouver Island Beach Resort

You can own Jason Priestley’s Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet for less than $5 million

Islanders want BC Ferries to follow order that lets residents board before tourists

For ferry-dependent communities, ferries are often the sole practical lifeline to work, school or medical appointments.

Most Read