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Forest Worker Safety Network

fwsn 2008


Babine Forest Products Inquest Underway
Falling for the Wild Logging Video Feature Pick

fwsn 2008

Babine Mill Explosion Aftermath

Inquest to ascertain publicly the facts relating to the deaths of Luggi and Charlie and to make recommendations to hopefully prevent future loss of life in similar circumstances.

By Bill Phillips, Smithers Interior News

For some reason, the week before January 20, 2012, Maureen Luggi had trouble sleeping.

She would lay awake until about 5 a.m. waiting for her husband Robert to return from his shift at the Babine Forest Products sawmill in Burns Lake.

"That's the only time I could sleep, when I knew he was safe," she said Monday at the coroner's inquest into his death. "I would lay my hands on him when he was sleeping and pray over him … I couldn't understand, in those moments, why I was crying. I didn't want to wake him up."

Later, an elder told him she was preparing him for burial. Robert Francis Luggi, along with co-worker Carl Rodney Charlie were killed when the mill exploded and burned on January 20, 2012. Maureen Luggi was first of 48 witnesses scheduled to testify at the inquest, which is expected to take three weeks.

Carl Charlie - Photo Credit:

About 75 people gathered at the Island Gospel Fellowship Hall Monday for the first day of testimony that, as coroner Chico Newell explained, is to ascertain publicly the facts relating to the deaths of Luggi and Charlie and to make recommendations to hopefully prevent future loss of life in similar circumstances.

With a framed picture of Robert by her side, Maureen Luggi told of how Robert Luggi was a caring, family man … stepfather to a child she had before they met and father to their two children. Originally from Fraser Lake, he moved to Burns Lake in 1989 and had worked at Babine Forest Products for 22 years.

"Everyone who knew him will remember him for his sense of humour and his kindness," Maureen said. "He was just a happy person."

However, he had been complaining to Maureen about dust at the mill. A similar explosion and fire at Lakeland Mills in Prince George was the result of combustible dust. Robert Luggi had also been wanting to move up in the sawmill and was disappointed when he was looked over for a lead hand's position. He complained to mill management and told them that he had spoken to the B.C. Human Rights Commission about possibly filing a discrimination case against the mill as he felt he didn't get the job because he was First Nations. Mill management subsequently decided to move him off the A-shift and onto the B-shift, so he could train as a lead hand. He moved onto the B-shift right after Christmas in 2011, a month before the explosion that took his life.

Robert Luggi - Photo Credit:

Maureen Luggi said since 2012 she has become aware of Bill C-45, commonly referred to as the Westray bill. The bill, which was sparked by the Westray mine explosion in Nova Scotia, changed the Criminal Code to read: "Everyone who has the authority, to direct how another person doe work or performs a task, is under a legal duty to take reasonable steps to prevent bodily harm to that person, or any other person, arising from that task."

"Why is this not being enforced?" Maureen Luggi asked. "This explosion should not have happened." She did, however, say she forgives those involved. "I pray that we can find some peace and some closure," she said.

While Robert Luggi had just joined the B-shift and month prior, Carl Rodney Charlie wasn't even supposed to be at work that day.

"It was his day off," his sister Lucy Campbell told the inquest. "But, being the hard worker that he was, he took the shift."

She said he had lunch with his parents before heading off to work that day and that was the last they saw of him. She recalled how, when news broke of the explosion, she and the family hoped Carl had survived. "How little did we know that this was our beloved Carl that was in the mill," she said when they learned that two men were unaccounted for.

But when the news came, she said the family was devastated. "Our only hope is that he didn't feel a thing because he didn't deserve to die like that," Campbell said.

She said that he too had talked about the amount of sawdust piling up at the mill, plus the cold weather conditions. Charlie had three children and, Campbell said, had a great Christmas in 2011 because two of his children were able to spend it with him. Charlie lived in Burns Lake all his life. He worked at Babine Forest Products about 18-and-a-half years.

"He was known for his handshakes and big waves," Campbell said. "He never turned his back on anyone who needed help. When we went through some tough times, he was the glue that held us together. Carl was independent and spontaneous."

The inquest, before a five-man, two-woman jury, will continue this week with testimony from men who were in the mill at the time of the explosion.

Steve Zika, of Hampton Affiliates, the company that owns Babine Forest Products, is scheduled to testify next week. WorkSafeBC representatives will also be taking the stand. WorkSafeBC has been criticized for how it investigated both the Babine and Lakeland explosions.

In both cases Crown counsel said it could not proceed with charges because of the WorkSafeBC investigations. That has prompted the families of the deceased, survivors, Steelworkers, B.C. Federation of Labour, and the NDP to call for public inquiry into the explosions. Premier Christy Clark has dismissed calls for a public inquiry.

This Bill Phillips story is courtesy of the Smithers Interior News.

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There is an element of thrill and a great sense of accomplishment which keep this job enjoyable.

Ferns & Fallers - Volume 2, Number 1

For Aggressive Timber’s falling supervisor Trevor Herron, 42, the forest is his office. Here, the Powell River dad-of-four chats with Ferns & Fallers about the unparalleled adventure – and danger – of harvesting timber for a living.

Trevor Herron falling a cedar - Photo Credit: Ferns and FallersWhat does a faller do?
A faller cuts down trees and bucks them into marketable lengths. Assessing and controlling the hazards involved, as well as making it safe for the logging and planting crews that will follow, is also part of the job.

Position title with Aggressive:

Number of years as a faller:
20 years.

Where you’re from originally:
I moved from Calgary at eight with my family. I’ve called Powell River home since then.

Why you decided to become a faller:
It was more a progression of experiences rather than a decision. I started working in the bush after Grade 12 as a shake blocker, and as my experience in the bush grew I was introduced to a faller, who mentored me along the way. There was not any course needed back then. I could never imagine being in an office all day long. There is an element of thrill and a great sense of accomplishment which keep this job enjoyable to me.

Describe a typical work day:
That’s another nice thing about my job, no two days are the same. As a supervisor I oversee the progression and organization of falling activities for a given project and make sure the crew is operating in a safe and efficient manner; this includes a long list of duties and responsibilities. A heli-faller gets transported onto the hill with a helicopter at heli pads which we build out of the timber we fall in the area. The faller falls and bucks trees for a seven-hour day. Weather, timber type and terrain vary greatly in our forests, making every day a new challenge and never the same.

What do you think about when you’re falling trees?
This is a fairly intense job, requiring great attention, focus and all of your senses. Everything we do changes our work area as we try to control thousands of pounds with just our chain saws and hands. Everything else seems to disappear when I’m falling trees.

What equipment do you use?
My daily tools include chain saws, axe, wedges and a portable radio. We wear personal protective equipment to help keep us safe like cut-resistant pants, hard hat, face screen and earmuffs to name a few.

How much time do you typically spend away from home working, in a year?
I spend anywhere between 200 - 250 days away from home every year.

What kind of living set-up do you have when you’re working away?
Mostly we specialize in helicopter logging and we work in remote locations all over the coast. Floating camps are set up to be mobile and are towed to these locations with tug boats. Everyone has their own rooms on these camps and food is catered on site.

What scares you about your job?
We have a very tight crew and are almost like family to each other. As the person sending them into these areas my worst fear is any of them getting hurt or worse.

Have you been injured on the job? Seen others injured?
I have been fortunate to have only had minor injuries on the job myself but as a supervisor and Level 3 First Aid attendant I have had to help in a number of incidents with others. These incidents have mostly been minor cuts and bruises but also include a fatality.

Best book about logging?
There are lots of great books on logging and its history. One that stands out in my memory is Never Chop Your Rope by Joe Garner.

What animals have you seen when you’ve been working?
Bear, cougar, deer elk, martin, squirrels and various species of birds, as well as all the marine life from living on float camps: whales, porpoise, seals.

What kinds of bugs have bitten you while working?
Wasps, spiders, horseflies, mosquitoes, black flies, carpenter ants and possibly others I don’t even want to know about.

What do you wish other people knew about your job?
People should know that we care about the forest more than just about anyone else. It’s where we spend the majority of our time; it’s our families livelihood. We depend on it and appreciate it more than most would ever think.

What would you tell young people about working in the woods? Should they choose it as a career?
I would tell them that it is a very physically and mentally difficult job which can be demanding and rewarding at the same time.

Courtesy of Ferns & Fallers: Forests and Forestry on the Sunshine Coast - A publication by Powell River Living and Southcott Communications.

Trevor Herron and his colleagues build platforms for helicopters to land on when they’re falling in remote areas - Photo Credit: Ferns and Fallers


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.  [back to top]

Danger Tree Assessment

This video is an industry safety video that deals with how fallers can safely assess their quarter when planning to fall timber. Join danger tree specialist Dean McGeough on a short introductory forest tour as he looks for and explains a few key danger tree indicators in relatively healthy looking trees and sections of forest. Video courtesy of the SAFER Council at

Something to say about this video? Email us at:


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