Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine (January 2015)

Five months after the announcement of the WorkSafeBC Review and Action Plan report, the regulatory agency posted its first update of its progress online on December 09, 2014.

Ket progress to date includes the development of a health and safety association in the wood-manufacturing sector, possibly by mid-2015, and the implementation of a revised “major case management” protocol.

The report, which includes 43 recommendations on improving workplace health and safety in the province, was released on July 15, 2014, by Shirley Bond, British Columbia’s Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills and Minister responsible for Labour. The 192-page report, prepared by WorkSafeBC administrator Gordon Macatee, comes more than two years after a fire and explosion destroyed the Babine Forest Products sawmill in Burns Lake in January 2012, killing two workers and injuring 20 others.

Other progress items since July include the following:

  • Implement a sustained, dust-safety compliance plan for sawmills and wood-manufacturing employers and have new policies for sawmills and other wood-processing manufacturers;
  • Create a gatekeeper position to ensure oversight of all appropriate legal information to relevant parties (this person has the authority to decide when an accident ceases to be a cause investigation and becomes a prosecution investigation); and
  • Finalize the signing of two memoranda or understanding – one between WorkSafeBC and police agencies to cooperate and share information when conducting concurrent, joint or sequential investigations into the same incident, and the other between WorkSafeBC and the Criminal Justice Branch.

Bob Matters, chair of the United Steelworkers’ Wood Council, says that while there is still much work to be done, he is happy with the progress so far. He adds that the new policies on wood-dust migration and control will help to ensure that sawmills are safer.

My opinion

I was surprised to find out that there was not a direct association to deal with one of the biggest industries in British Columbia. There needs to be government oversight in this industry and stakeholders should be contacted to build a set of controls and processes of controls to deal with the many associated hazards.

Update: We are now near the end of 2021 and I have researched similar associations that may have formed after this report,

  1. Independent Wood Processors Associations of BC,
  2. The Interior Lumber Manufacturers’ Association,

If anyone does know the name or names of any new association that came out because of this report, please contact the editor.

HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259 We can also be reached at info@hrsgroup.com

Ensure your workplace is a safe place.

Remember – In Canada, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

Daniel L. Beal 

CHSEP – Advanced Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.