WorkSafeBC Reopens BC Sawmill Explosions Investigation

In January, 2012, a sawmill in the community of Burns Lake, British Columbia, exploded, killing Robert Luggi Jr. and Carl Charlies. In April of that year, a similar blast consumed a Prince George, BC, sawmill, killing Alan Little and Glenn Roche. Many of the survivors suffered life-altering injuries – some are still unable to return to work.

The BC Liberal government commissioned two reviews. In addition, both the WorkSafeBC and the BC Safety Authority investigated, and a coroner’s inquest was held. The explosions were deemed to be preventable and dozens of recommendations were made.

Following the explosions, the industry led safety reforms and introduced a voluntary audit system. The Council of Forest Industries said at the time the industry had invested millions of dollars in safety improvements, such as improved ventilation and additional water mist systems.

Earlier this month, the province quietly appointed Vancouver lawyer Lisa Helps to assess how WorkSafeBC implemented worker safety recommendations following the explosions at Babine Forest Products and Lakeland Mills. Her recommendations are due in July.

The province’s Criminal Justice Branch did not lay charges in the 2012 deaths because WorkSafeBC not only failed to warn the mills about the hazards of combustible dust that triggered the deadly explosions, but then bungled the subsequent investigations.

Get the full story at the Globe and Mail here: