Lumber, pellet mills still have dust hazard

Sawmill wood dust compliance has increased to 85% in latest inspections, but pellet and OSB mills have work to do

Babine Forest Products mill in Burns Lake Jan. 20

Sawmills have improved their control of combustible dust, but non-compliant wood product manufactures are still being found by stepped-up inspections since two fatal explosions in northern B.C. in 2012.

Jobs Minister Shirley Bond has promised to implement all recommendations of a new report recommending continued inspections and penalties for mills, and a separate investigative unit for WorkSafeBC that will seek prosecutions for unsafe conditions.

Bond released the report Tuesday, showing that sawmill compliance with dust control standards has gone from 58% to 84% in the latest round of inspections.

Inspections of 15 pellet mills, pressboard and oriented strand board manufacturers showed they are still lagging behind.

“Their 40% compliance rate was a disappointment, especially in the wake of all that’s been said and done to this point,” Bond said.

The B.C. industry has hired five independent advisors to help mills comply with WorkSafeBC health and safety rules, and the Council of Forest Industries has agreed to make membership in the outside audit program a condition of membership in the industry group.

Two workers died and 20 others were injured when an explosion and fire tore through the Babine Forest Products sawmill in Burns Lake on Jan. 20, 2012. On April 23, a similar explosion killed two workers and injured 22 more at Lakeland Mills in Prince George.

Babine Forest Products has appealed fines totalling more than $1 million imposed by WorkSafeBC. Crown prosecutors declined to charge companies and individuals in the two mill incidents, saying some evidence from the WorkSafeBC investigation may not be admissible in court. Prosecutors also concluded that mill operators would likely be acquitted using a “due diligence” defence.

Bond said WorkSafeBC investigators will be reorganized into two teams as a result of the sawmill findings.

“It means that the moment they sense that an investigation may move from looking for the cause of an incident to the potential for prosecution, that the initial team would stop their work,” Bond said. “A completely separate unit would begin the work again with an eye to a successful prosecution.”

 

Just Posted

It’s the last day to vote in B.C.’s referendum on electoral reform

Ballots must now be dropped off in person to meet the deadline of 4:30 p.m.

North Coast First Nation chief says one major oil spill could ruin economy forever

Chief Marilyn Slett of Heiltsuk Nation near Bella Bella is leading a delegation in Ottawa this week

How to decide what to vote for in B.C.’s referendum on electoral reform

Ballots are due at Elections BC on Friday, Dec. 7, at 4:30 p.m.

Northern Health investigates racist posts of possible employee

Facebook comments call for segregated health authorities

Lawyer for Chinese exec detained by Canada says it’s ‘inconceivable’ she would flee

Meng Wanzhou was detained at the request of the U.S. during a layover at the Vancouver airport

Goodale to ‘examine’ transfer of Rafferty to medium-security prison

Michael Rafferty was sentenced to life in prison in 2012 in the kidnapping, sexual assault and first-degree murder of Tori Stafford

‘Abhorrent’ condition of autistic B.C. boy shows flaws in care system: report

‘Charlie’ was underweight and ‘covered in feces’ when he was removed from his mom’s care

Minister appoints former CIRB chair to resolve Canada Post labour dispute

Postal workers engaged in weeks of rotating walkouts

B.C. man linked to human remains probe to stand trial on unrelated assault case

Curtis Wayne Sagmoen will appear on all three Vernon matters this week

B.C. lumber industry trade mission still has high hopes for China

Forests Minister Doug Donaldson cut short trip after Japan, Korea stops

Omar Khadr to ask for Canadian passport to travel, permission to speak to sister

He spent years in U.S. detention at Guantanamo Bay after he was caught when he was 15

One of Tori Stafford’s killers transferred to medium-security prison

Michael Rafferty was sentenced to life in prison in 2012 in the kidnapping, sexual assault and first-degree murder of Tori Stafford

Military closes book on oft-criticized support unit for ill, injured troops

The transition unit will provide support and services to military members struggling with physical and mental injuries so they can return to work.

Most Read