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Canadian sawmill owner to appeal BC fatal explosion fine

09 April 2014

Babine Forest Products has  announced it plans to appeal a C$1 million penalty, the highest ever levied by WorkSafeBC, for a fatal explosion and fire at its Burns Lake sawmill in British Columbia in January 2012. The company had been found to be in violation of the Workers Compensation Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation.

In a statement, the company said that the fines and administrative penalties against Babine for the dust-fuelled explosion and fire in 2012 that killed two workers and injured 20 others were not fair.

The company noted the Crown had earlier determined charges were not warranted because of the company’s “due diligence in managing foreseeable risks.” The Crown also found that WorkSafe failed to perform an appropriate investigation, the statement pointed out.

“For WorkSafeBC to now propose a significant administrative penalty seems disingenuous, especially in light of this record, and the fact that WorkSafeBC must weigh the same considerations of due diligence as the Crown,” said Babine, which is majority-owned by Oregon-based Hampton Affiliates.

“We intend to appeal these proposed fines through the appropriate process,” the company added.

WorkSafeBC  said it is issuing a $97,500 administrative penalty against Babine, and a claims cost levy of $914,139 for violations under the Workers’ Compensation Act related to the accumulation of sawdust within the mill that contributed to the explosion.

WorkSafeBC spokesman Scott McCloy confirmed that the combined financial toll is the largest penalty that it has ever levied against any business or employer.

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