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WorkSafe BC & You - Assistance with filling out claim forms, reporting unsfae workplaces, and getting a WorkSafe BC Inspector to your worksite.

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Forest Worker Safety Network

fwsn 2008


Looking Back: Sawmill Cleanup Teen Dies at Lavington Mill
Log Truck Rollover and Seat Belt Safety Logging Video Feature Pick

fwsn 2008

In June 2013 Bradley Haslam died while working on the midnight cleanup shift at Tolko's Lavington Sawmill. The resulting coroner's inquest raises awareness on how young workers are sometimes not provided adequate information, instruction, training, and supervision. looks back at what the accident investigation revealed.

From the Vancouver Sun

Teenage Worker Dies in Sawmill Accident
The head of Tolko Industries said the company is extremely saddened by the death of an 18-year-old employee who became entangled in a conveyor belt at a planer mill in Lavington, near Vernon.

By Vancouver Sun June 18, 2013

The head of Tolko Industries said the company is extremely saddened by the death of an 18-year-old employee who became entangled in a conveyor belt at a planer mill in Lavington, near Vernon.

Brad Thorlakson said knowing that a family has been forever changed by the tragedy is devastating, and no words can convey the pain of the heart-wrenching loss.

He said a shift supervisor who found Bradley Haslam freed him from the equipment and, along with two other workers, administered first aid until an ambulance arrived early Saturday morning.

Haslam, who had been working part-time on the overnight cleanup crew for a few months, was transported to a hospital in nearby Vernon and pronounced dead shortly after arrival.

No one witnessed the accident and WorkSafeBC investigators based in Kelowna arrived at the mill early Saturday morning and stayed all day trying to determine how the teen died, according to the safety watchdog's director of investigations Jeff Dolan.

"He was conducting cleanup and, at the time of the incident, he was on the main floor of the mill near a waste-disposal conveyor," Dolan said.

Dolan couldn't say Monday evening whether Haslam's death was the first at a B.C. sawmill since two explosions rocked separate mills in 2011 that killed four and injured numerous others.

WorkSafeBC says it may be several months before investigators learn how the industrial accident happened.

Thorlakson said the incident serves as a reminder about the importance of safety in the workplace and a call to all employees to look out for each other.

"We will have our Employee Family Assistance Program provider on site to offer support, and I encourage anyone needing help to seek out these services," Thorlakson said in a statement. "I especially want to thank those who responded to the accident for their efforts to save this young man's life.

WORKSAFEBC Accident Investigation
Young worker suffered fatal injuries when trapped by conveyor belt

Incident summary
As part of a cleanup crew at a sawmill, a young worker was removing sawdust and other wood debris from the area assigned to him by his supervisor. The supervisor had directed the young worker to work in areas away from the running machinery and conveyors, and observed the young worker to be following his instructions. The young worker then reminded his supervisor that he needed a waste bucket, and the supervisor left to get one. While walking through the sawmill, the supervisor saw that the chain drive for a waste conveyor was running but that the conveyor belt itself was not moving. He returned to find that the young worker was trapped between a conveyor belt and the metal frame supporting the conveyor tray and idler roller. The conveyor belt was cut to free the young worker, but he died from his injuries.

Investigation conclusions

  • Young worker caught between conveyor belt and metal framework: The young worker, part of a night-shift cleanup crew at a sawmill, was working right next to a moving conveyor belt that was not guarded or locked out. While cleaning the floor using compressed air from a hose and wand attachment, he became entangled in the return belt of a waste conveyor, and was pinned up against the metal frame supporting the conveyor tray and idler roller. He suffered fatal injuries.

Underlying factors

  • Extended production cycle exposed young workers to unfamiliar hazards: The cleanup crew of young workers usually worked after the mill was shut down, and after production had ended for the night. On this occasion, however, production was planned to extend into the cleanup workers' shift. One of the young workers was assigned to an area he was familiar with and had worked in before, but not under these circumstances, where the hazards of operating equipment and conveyors were present, which would normally have been shut off and locked out.

  • Lack of guarding around running conveyor: A perimeter guard, intended to provide guarding for the waste conveyor, was missing its bottom rail at the time of the incident, and was therefore not providing proper protection to workers to keep them away from the hazard while the equipment was operating.

  • Waste conveyor not locked out: Together, the supervisor and the young worker had locked out several pieces of equipment in the assigned work area, but did not de-energize or lock out the waste conveyor, which continued to operate. While performing cleanup duties, the young worker was working near the running waste conveyor, which should have been de-energized and locked out.

  • Inadequate information, instruction, training, and supervision provided to the young worker: At the time of the incident, there was only one supervisor for 17 young workers on the cleanup crew. Production in some areas of the sawmill was ongoing, which was a new situation for the young worker. While working on his own, the young worker was cleaning in the immediate area around an unguarded running conveyor. He was not provided with adequate information, instruction, training, and supervision to recognize the incomplete guard, or to identify the area beyond the intended guard as a lockout area.

Accident investigation courtesy of WorkSafeBC.

Are young workers at risk?
Yes. Young workers are at a much higher risk of injury than workers of any other age group. More than half of workplace accidents involving workers aged 15 to 24 occur during the first six months on the job. And almost 20 percent occur during the first month on the job. --- WorkSafeBC

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The resource roads network across British Columbia like a spider web. Over 400,000 kms of roads of various widths, lengths, materials and uses are largely unregulated and not enforced. For this reason, its very important to drive with your headlights on at all times, and to wear your seatbelt at all times because anything can happen.

Resource road users, including tourists and recreation users, need to be aware that maintenance is not being done on many of these roads. Surfaces are very rough, and brush is growing in, creating line-of-sight issues. Resource road users are urged to exercise extreme caution when venturing out. and to expect the unexpected. Even though there may not be active logging in an area, there may still well be industrial and other users out there - oil & mining exploration, silviculture, access to First Nations communities, and so on.

Log truck driver, Adrian Sunduk, shares his story of how a seat belt saved his life. Before attending an Anatomy of a Rollover session, he had never worn a seat belt off highway because he had always planned to jump out of the truck if ever he got into a situation. Watch the video above to see what convinced him that he was wrong and how wearing a seat belt saved his life.

This story is courtesy of the BC Forest Safety Council.           [top]

FWSN Media Room

The Forest Worker Safety Network regularly reviews logging videos on The video below is our feature pick for this month. Click the video screen if you wish to enlarge the video for viewing on in new browser window on the website.  [top]

Four Leaf Logging

We're up in the BC Interior this month with a video on mechanized harvesting. Four Leaf Logging in full swing when this video was shot near Nelson BC. It really provides a demonstration of an automated high production logging operation with very few crew on the ground. The video was captured in one day using time lapse photography to show the speed and efficiency of a mechanized logging operation.  Courtesy of Banditos Media.

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Safe Workplaces... Our Right, Our Responsibility

A USW Health & Safety Production - Click to view.
USW OH&S Video/a>

FWSN Tailgate Talk

Safe Workplaces... Our Right, Our Responsibility

Day of Mourning - April 28th


Forest Worker Safety Network

The Forest Workers Safety Network (FWSN) is an initiative of United Steelworkers (USW) District 3, which represents over 20,000 forest workers in British Columbia.

In light of rising forest industry fatalities and injuries, the FWSN has been formed as a response to a demand for a worker-focused information and networking system. The FWSN is available to all BC forest workers, at no cost, whether or not they are members of the United Steelworkers (USW) union.

The FWSN is initiating its activities by disseminating information developed for BC Coastal loggers and woodlands employees, from stump to dump and beyond. We are also collecting information on safety issues in the sector and on urgent and pressing issues that groups of workers and individuals face. We provide general health and safety information and information on the USW’s ongoing efforts to stop needless fatalities and injuries.

There will be regular communications for all workers who sign up.

Join the Forest Workers Safety Network today!  [back to top]

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Forest Workers Safety Network - 2009