WorkSafeBC Investigating Two Fatal Mill Explosions
In the aftermath of an April 23 sawmill explosion and fire that killed at least two workers and injured several others in Prince George, BC, WorkSafeBC has ordered all British Columbia sawmill employers to conduct full hazard identification, risk assessment and safety reviews.
Lakeland Mills sawmill shift supervisor Alan Little, 43, and worker Glenn Francis Roche, 46, died. Nine other workers suffered severe injuries in the explosion. There were 24 employees working in the mill at the time.
The WorkSafeBC order directs sawmills to pay particular attention to combustible dust accumulations and potential ignition sources. The agency says it will be following up on the orders to confirm that required actions have been taken and that sawmills are in compliance with the province’s Workers Compensation Act and Occupational Health and Safety Regulation with regard to combustible dust and potential safety hazards.
WorkSafeBC is also investigating a January 2012 explosion that killed two workers and injured 19 others at Babine Forest Products in the northern co
mmunity of Burns Lake, BC.
“No preliminary findings into the Burns Lake investigation are available at this time and WorkSafeBC is not in a position to release information that might compromise the process,” says Roberta Ellis, Vice President of Corporate Services. “Investigators continue to examine fuel sources including combustible sawdust and gas as well as potential ignition sources.”
“We recognize that there are similarities between the explosions in Burns Lake and Prince George—both are sawmills, dust was present in both, as in all sawmills, and both mills were working with (pine) beetle-infested wood,” she says. “However, we cannot speculate, based on these similarities, as to the cause of these events.”