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

PHOTOS: FVAD presents The Nutcracker

Mission’s Fraser Valley Academy of Dance continued a holiday tradition at the Clarke Theatre

AERIAL PHOTOS: See how Abbotsford changed between 2018 and 2019

City has undergone record amounts of development in recent years.

Westbound Highway 1 crash in Langley

Accident occurred just west of 264th Street shortly before 6 a.m.

Registration now open for 7th annual Environmental Mind Grind

Competition on Feb. 27 invites Abbotsford and Mission schools to participate

No defence witnesses in trial of man charged in killing of Abbotsford student

‘Change of instructions’ results in defence closing case without calling evidence

Strata rental bans escape B.C. speculation tax through 2021, Carole James says

Vacant home tax won’t apply to cabins accessible only by water

Seven arrested in 20-man fight between rival gangs in Vancouver

Seven men were arrested but have since been released with no charges filed

SkyTrain strike averted after ‘eleventh-hour deal’ reached

CUPE 7000 says ‘marathon bargaining session’ led to tentative agreement with BC Rapid Transit

China hints at national security trials for 2 Canadians detained for one year

The two Canadians’ detention is largely seen as retaliation for the arrest of a Huawei exec

B.C. seaplane company set to test the first commercial electronic plane

The plane is powered by a 750 horsepower electric motor

Fireballs to fill the sky Friday for brightest meteor shower of the year

Geminid meteor shower features colourful, brighter, longer shooting stars

Province sues over sailing incident that killed teen with disabilities

Gabriel Pollard, 16, died from injuries after marine lift failed

Most Read