B.C. reviewing implementation of sawmill safety recommendations

Two explosions killed 4 workers, injured dozens in 2012

B.C. reviewing implementation of sawmill safety recommendations

The government of British Columbia has retained a lawyer to assess the actions of WorkSafeBC in relation to sawmill explosions at Babine Forest Products and Lakeland Mills in 2012. The explosions killed four workers and injured dozens more in the communities of Burns Lake and Prince George.


After both incidents, coroner’s inquests were conducted, and two reports were commissioned by the provincial government — the Dyble Report and Macatee Report. Various recommendations for WorkSafeBC arose out of these documents and now, lawyer Lisa Helps will be reviewing how these recommendations were implemented.


“(The) government is stepping up to provide important and overdue answers to the families and victims and to ensure that resources are in place to prevent similar tragedies from happening again,” the provincial government said in a release.


Helps will seek input from relevant stakeholders and staff in WorkSafeBC and the ministries of attorney general, public safety and solicitor general and labour during her review. Helps will invite workers affected by the explosions, and their families, to share their perspectives on the issues under review.


The United Steelworkers (USW) issued a press release saying it is welcoming the review.


"For seven years we have been standing with victims, families and community members who have been desperate for answers," said USW district 3 director Stephen Hunt. "Through the coroners' inquests, the Dyble Report and the Macatee Report, we learned that WorkSafeBC failed to live up to its responsibility to protect the health and safety of workers."


Helps will also provide advice on potential legislative changes to improve safety for B.C. workers. A report, including recommendations, will be delivered to the attorney general by mid-July 2019.


Al Johnson, vice-president of prevention services for WorkSafeBC, said the agency is looking forward to assisting the reviewer in her work.


"We are always looking for ways to improve the health and safety of B.C. workplaces,” he said.