WorkSafeBC has imposed a $637,415.60 fine on West Fraser Mills Ltd. for what it is calling “high-risk violations.” File photo

WorkSafeBC imposes $637,415.60 fine on West Fraser Mills Ltd. for “high-risk violations”

West Fraser says they have made safety training improvements since the 2017 incident in Quesnel

WorkSafeBC has imposed a $637,415.60 fine on West Fraser Mills Ltd. after reviewing a workplace at the company’s Quesnel fibreboard plant.

The fine was imposed March 6.

“We received the rationale from WorksafeBC,” Brian Balkwill, West Fraser’s vice-president of Canadian Wood Products, said in an e-mail statement Monday, April 8. “In response to the incident in 2017, we have made enhancements to our site and corporate safety training, audit process, documentation activities and internal communication. The maintenance of a safe workplace is a core priority for West Fraser.”

In its report, WorkSafeBC states a worker from a subcontractor’s firm was vacuuming ash from a hatch midway up a multi-cone hopper when compacted hot ash in the multi-cone broke free. The ash rushed out of the hatch onto the worker, causing serious injuries.

“WorkSafeBC’s investigation determined that the prime contractor had not conducted an adequate assessment of the risks associated with accumulated hot ash,” the report states. “Safe work procedures had not been communicated to the subcontractor firm, and the subcontractor’s workers had not been trained in the work task. As owner, the firm failed to provide the information necessary to identify and control hazards to the health and safety of workers, a repeated violation. The firm also failed to instruct workers in safe work procedures and provide adequate personal protective equipment for work around extreme temperature sources. In addition, the firm failed to provide the information, instruction, training and supervision necessary to ensure workers’ health and safety. These were all high-risk violations.”

WorkSafe BC has received a request for a review from West Fraser.

Subcontractor Envirosystems Incorporated has also been fined by WorkSafeBC in relation to the incident. WorkSafeBC imposed an $8,026.98 fine on the firm Feb. 28.

“WorkSafeBC’s investigation determined that the worker had not been trained in this work task, and the firm’s supervisor had not identified or communicated the hot ash hazards to workers,” the WorkSafeBC report states. “In addition, the worker had not been provided with appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). The firm failed to establish safe work procedures and provide PPE for work around extreme temperature sources. The firm also failed to provide its workers with the information, instruction, training and supervision necessary to ensure their health and safety. These were both high-risk violations.”

READ MORE: West Fraser gives Quesnel council a glimpse of the future

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