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Canada sawmill explosion deaths ruled accidental

03 August 2015

A coroners inquest into the deaths of two men at the Burns Lake sawmill explosion in January 2012 has made 41 recommendations aimed at improving safety. The two fatalities and 11 injuries occurred during the fire and explosion at the Babine Forest Products mill in Burns Lake, British Columbia, which the jury concluded were accidental.

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Stock image

The recommendations included advice to Babine Forest Products on improving safety systems and procedures after an accident, addressing communications breakdowns and gaps in knowledge, and changing a culture of "bullying, intimidation, and discrimination that prevented (workers) from bringing forward safety concerns”.

The inquest recommended the owners, Hampton Affiliates, should ensure mill compliance with the National Fire Code, install a fire-pumping system at the mill, have a standalone first aid facility and use a combustible gas monitor when workers report gas smells.

A coroner’s inquest into the April 2012 blast at Lakeland Mills in Prince George that killed two and injured 22 also found the deaths to have been accidental.

Both inquests focused on the hazards of combustible dust created by milling mountain pine beetle-killed wood, which industry and government authorities have said were not well understood at the time.

A WorkSafeBC investigation concluded an accumulation of wood dust played a part in both explosions.

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