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

Houston athlete trying out for regional girls’ team

Zone 7 girls’ team is first in eight years

Winter road maintenance standards boosted

Quicker response times, longer winter tire season to be implemented

HVAC overhaul to continue this summer

Upgrades at Houston Secondary School (HSS) are a long-time coming, according to… Continue reading

Northern B.C. rail service is unreliable and inadequate, trade minister says

Bruce Ralston pushes federal minister of transport to ensure reliable supply of rail cars

Celebrate the Value of Volunteering

National Volunteer Week is April 15-21

Lt.-Gov. Guichon believes she made the right decision

Outgoing Lt.-Gov Judith Guichon said her most memorable moments weren’t surrounding the election

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Time to let go for BC bears, otters, bobcat

Northern Lights Wildlife shelter near Smithers set to release orphaned animals this spring.

VIDEO: Smokers talk pot rules at annual 4-20 event

Annual pot protest-meets-festival in Vancouver attracted hundreds to vendors, concert

New funds, recruits set to alleviate B.C. sheriff shortage

The Government of British Columbia announced new sheriff graduates, funding for more classes

Video: RCMP investigation gets a deer little photobomb

Princeton RCMP were conducting a drug investigation in Princeton which a deer strolled through

Farnworth says five years too long for feds to deal with organized crime in medical pot

Needs to be dealt with much sooner than that, B.C. Public Safety Minister says

UPDATED: Unions, CP Rail come to agreement, avoiding work stoppage

Locomotive engineers, conductors and signals specialists seeking new collective agreements.

B.C. woman known to hitchhike around province missing

Aislynn Hanson, 18, last seen April 13; known to travel throughout B.C. by hitchhiking

Most Read