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B.C. sawmill explosion report calls for more accountability, streamlined investigation

JOC News Service
B.C. sawmill explosion report calls for more accountability, streamlined investigation

VICTORIA, B.C. – A report reviewing the government of British Columbia and WorkSafeBC’s actions following two fatal sawmill explosions is calling for more accountability and better safeguards for workers along with a streamlined investigation process.  

Two people died and 20 were injured on Jan. 10, 2012 at an explosion at Babine Forest Products in Burns Lake, B.C. and on April 24, 2012 two people died and 22 were injured in an explosion at Lakeland Mills in Prince George, B.C.

Vancouver lawyer Lisa Helps was contracted earlier in 2019 to assess WorkSafeBC and the provincial government’s implementation progress for recommendations from previous reports.

Helps’ report, titled “WorkSafeBC and Government Action Review: Crossing the Rubicon” noted all recommendations from the Dyble Report and Macatee Report in 2014 along with a 2015 BC Coroners Service verdict “have been implemented and the changes have largely been effective and positive,” according to a B.C. government release. 

Helps was also tasked with making further recommendations to the B.C. government and affected agencies. She recommended:

  • Restructuring WorkSafeBC’s Fatal and Serious Incident Investigation Team from a current two-team model to a one-team model, in order to improve efficiency and timelines, and avoid duplication.
  • Amending the Workers Compensation Act to remove the step of getting approval from WorkSafeBC executives before an investigating officer can recommend charges be laid.
  • Separation of WorkSafeBC’s Investigation Unit from the Worker and Employer Services Group.
  • Amending the Workers Compensation Act to include search and seizure powers.
  • Amending the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation to strengthen worker protections around the right to refuse unsafe work.

The report is available online on the Province of B.C.’s website.

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