Clark Review of Burns Lake Sawmill Explosion Investigation Raises More Questions than It Answers: Steelworkers

Independent Review of WCB and Other Safety Agencies Required Before Workers Can Have Confidence Safety Is Paramount in BC Workplace

BURNABY, BC, Feb. 13, 2014 /CNW/ - The United Steelworkers (USW) are expressing their disappointment in the provincial governments review of the Burns Lake Sawmill explosion that it believes is inadequate, incomplete and provides no comfort to workers.

"Two years have gone by and there are still too many unanswered questions, no new safety regulations and little to no accountability for the employer and just as importantly the government agencies responsible for the safety of workers," said Stephen Hunt, Director of the United Steelworkers in western Canada, in response to Premier Christy Clark's review of the Burns Lake sawmill explosion.

The review commissioned by Premier Christy Clark, only looked at the question of Criminal Justice Branch's decision to not lay charges recommended by Worksafe BC.

"Reading her own review, surely Premier Clark can't be satisfied that all of the questions regarding not only the failure to prosecute but the failure to prevent the death of two workers and serious injuries to others have been asked and answered," Hunt stated. "Why is there no review of Worksafe BC's workplace inspection procedures to ensure action is taken when safety problems are identified?"

"What is the role of the Office of the Fire Commissioner, especially in smaller forest communities with no municipal fire department?"

"Why is there no new safety regulation to address dust mitigation and control in sawmills?"

"Why did BC Liberal Ministers intervene to suppress the BC Safety Authority's report on the Burns Lake explosion?," asked Hunt. "While the government and its agencies are finally acknowledging the need for formal investigation protocols that we have long called for, are workplaces any safer today after the Deputy Minister's report, the simple answer is no," Hunt added.

Two workers were killed and 20 others were injured in the Jan. 20, 2012, explosion and at the Babine Forest Products sawmill in Burns Lake. Three months later, on April 23, 2012 an explosion at the Lakeland Mills sawmill in Prince George killed two workers and injured 22 others. The USW represents the workers at both sawmills.

The USW has launched a national campaign, Stop The Killing, Enforce The Law, calling on provincial and territorial governments to train and direct Crown prosecutors, police and regulators to pursue greater enforcement of health and safety laws and regulations, including the Criminal Code. The campaign's website is http://www.StopTheKilling.ca.

SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)

For further information:

Steve Hunt, USW Western Canada Director, 604-816-2554
Brad West, USW Communications, 604-754-1174, bwest@usw.ca