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

‘Blue Monday’ isn’t real, but depression can be

CMHA encourages people to prioritize their mental health

Sooke Potholes viewing area likely to remain closed

Report says that more rockslides likely in the area

Residents push back on downtown Victoria tree removal

The birch tree at the Wharf-Government intersection will be removed to make way for bike lanes

Husband of slain RCMP officer ‘disgusted and disheartened’ by parole board

Killer of Const. Sarah Beckett allowed limited day parole for alcohol treatment

Sooke school adds wrestling to sports lineup

Journey Middle School team already bringing home medals

UPDATE: B.C. legislature managers accused of excessive travel, expenses

Speaker Darryl Plecas’ report details ‘flagrant overspending’

Anti-pipeline group wants NEB to consider impact of emissions, climate change

Stand.earth filed NEB motion asking to apply same standard to the project as it did with Energy East pipeline

B.C. man charged in 2014 snake venom death of toddler

Henry Thomas was taking care of the North Vancouver girl the day before she died

B.C.’s largest public-sector union wants inquiry into money laundering, drugs

Union officials say Premier John Horgan and Attorney General David Eby have not ruled out the possibility of a public inquiry

Teen in confrontation with Native American: I didn’t provoke

Nick Sandmann of Covington Catholic High School said he was trying to defuse the situation

Suspect allegedly armed with handgun robs Island gas station

Incident occurred Sunday night in Nanaimo

MARS seeing influx of sick, injured eagles from north part of Vancouver Island

Factors for increase in eagle cases can be anything from lead poisoning to vehicle strikes

Kamala Harris opens U.S. presidential bid in challenge to Trump

The 54-year old portrayed herself as a fighter for justice, decency and equality in a video distributed by her campaign

Woman offers luxury Alberta home for just $25 and a flair for the written word

Alla Wagner ran into health problems, which forced her to list the 5,000-square-foot estate at market value

Most Read