Sep 102012
Print Friendly

Better inter-agency talk might have prevented sawmill fatalities.

from the United Steelworkers

[Editor’s note: BC saw six workplace deaths in 2012, mostly at saw mills.]

 In the wake of revelations detailing the lack of coordination between government agencies responsible for workplace safety at Babine Forest Products in Burns Lake and Lakeland Mills in Prince George, the provincial government must order a formal review into the jurisdiction and procedures for interaction between agencies, says the United Steelworkers union.

Media reports have revealed that:

  • Babine Forest Products in Burns Lake had not been inspected by government fire inspectors under either the federal or provincial fire safety code for several years;
  • the Prince George Fire Department had several inspection reports detailing their concerns about combustible wood dust levels in Lakeland Mills that were never acted upon;
  • and that WorkSafeBC had noted high levels of dust in both mills.

Reports also suggest that none of these agencies shared the information they held with any other agency.

In a letter to Minister of Labour Margaret MacDiarmid and Justice Minister Shirley Bond, United Steelworkers District 3 Director Stephen Hunt says that the inability of these agencies to communicate, coordinate and share information is unacceptable.[

We cannot afford any more failures in occupational health and safety.

"The tragedies in Burns Lake and Prince George have devastated families and those two communities.  When it comes to occupational health and safety, we can't afford any more failures.  It is critical that the government establish effective and efficient methods of ensuring coordination between these agencies to ensure the safety of all workers in British Columbia," said Hunt.

"It should not take yet another senseless tragedy for action to be taken."

The United Steelworkers has made worker health and safety a top priority for the union and is committed to working with all levels of government to make improvements.

The USW's letter to Ministers MacDiarmid and Bond can be viewed at

Deaths dampen Labour Day

About United Steelworkers

The USW represents about 850,000 working men and women in Canada and the United States in a wide variety of industries, ranging from glass making to mining, paper, steel, tire and rubber and other manufacturing environments, to the public sector, service and health care industries.

© Copyright 2012 United Steelworkers, All rights Reserved. Written For:

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.