A WorkSafeBC investigation has found ample evidence that the Burns Lake sawmill accident in early 2012, which killed two workers and injuring 20 others, was “preventable.”
But there will be no penalties for the operators of the mill in the village about 220 kilometres west of Prince George because the Crown says WorkSafeBC’s investigation was so badly flawed – a situation that has prompted BC Premier Christy Clark to order a review into what happened.
Review of Sawmill Investigation
Clark says the people of Burns Lake deserve an explanation.
In the final report of its investigation into the incident, WorkSafeBC says sawmill management had known for some time that the dust collection system was undersized for this type of operation and had even made a down payment on a replacement.
Unfortunately, the mill’s electrical supply could not handle the additional load of the new dust collection system. “An electrical upgrade was planned, but instead of curtailing production until the upgrade was complete, production levels were increased instead.”
No “adequate actions” were taken to reduce or control airborne wood dust, although this was the “root cause” of an occupational health and safety violation cited in December, 2011 – a month before the disaster.
The 87-page report finds the explosion was caused by a buildup of wood dust that was ignited by rotating belts near a conveyor-belt motor.