FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — This Thursday will be this year’s designated Day of Mourning to remember those who have lost their lives in work-related incidents or to occupational disease and to re-new commitments to create safe workplaces.
However, the BC Federation of Labor got a head start last week focusing on communities, like this one, with sawmills.
President Irene Lanzinger issued a weekend statement on Saturday’s fourth anniversary of the deadly Lakeland Mill explosion and fire in Prince George, which followed by just three months a similar 2012 incident at the Babine Mill in Burns Lake.
Each of the events resulted in the deaths of two workers and serious injuries to about 20 others.
Coroner’s inquests into both events were held last year, but Irene believes there are still more questions than answers about the incidents. The Federation is renewing its call for Premier Clark to establish an independent public inquiry to ensure tragedies like these don’t happen again, in other forest industry communities.
Claims of unreliable sawdust collection systems have been cited as a likely source of the explosions, and WorkSafeBC has found these were “preventable accidents”, and in both of these cases it recommended charges be laid.
However, the Criminal Justice Branch refused to do so citing flaws in WorkSafe investigative procedures. A frustrated Maureen Luggi, whose husband was one of the workers killed in Burns Lake, said in a 2014 Global news interview:
It also sounds like that’s still the bottom line for the BC Federation.