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Safe Workplaces... Our Right, Our Responsibility

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Forest Worker Safety Network

fwsn 2008


Lakeland Mill Explosion Inquest Call for Review of Law
The Forests Around Us: Safety - A Ray of Hope Logging Video Feature Pick

fwsn 2008

Coroner’s jury was told it is very difficult to prosecute such cases in the workplaces.

By Matthew Robinson, Vancouver Sun

Ottawa should consider making it easier to prosecute cases of criminal negligence in the workplace, jurors recommended late Thursday after a coroner’s inquest into the fatal Lakeland Mills explosion in 2012.

That was one of more than 30 recommendations jurors made to unions, companies, first responders, WorkSafeBC and municipal, province and federal governments after deliberating through the day.

Jurors were tasked with making recommendations — but not assigning blame — and determining and deciding the cause of death of two workers who died in the blast.

Glenn Roche, 46, died from organ failure at the University of Alberta Hospital one day after the explosion. Surface burns covered 90 per cent of his body, the inquest found.

Alan Little, 43, died at University Hospital of Northern B.C. from respiratory arrest after suffering third-degree burns.

During the inquest, jurors heard it is difficult to successfully prosecute in cases of bodily harm or death in the workplace. They recommended that the federal justice minister refer the issue to the Commons committee on justice and human rights, to review the onus of proof in cases of criminal negligence in the workplace.

Jurors heard that managers at Lakeland Mills were “not responsive to concerns being raised by workers” and did not have skills or training to effectively do their jobs. They recommended Sinclar Group Forest Products ensure every manager is trained and qualified.

They also found that employees at the mill had continued their work even though it was unsafe to do so. Jurors recommended — among other things — that WorkSafeBC emphasize workers’ rights including the right to refuse unsafe work, and maintain a public record of workplace accidents.

The RCMP should develop training materials and policies to improve its investigations of criminal negligence in the workplace, jurors recommended. They heard that Mounties concluded their investigation into the blast after 2 1/2 days without interviewing mill managers or reviewing workplace policies.

Jurors also heard that many injured workers were driven to hospital in private vehicles, while one ambulance on the scene was used as a command post. They recommended that B.C. Ambulance Service review its processes so “ambulance response is timely and coordinated.”

Recommendations were also made to the Forest Safety Council, the United Steelworkers’ union, the Minister of Jobs, Tourism, Skills and Training, the provincial justice minister, the Office of the Fire Commissioner, the City of Prince George, the Manufacturers’ Advisory Group, B.C. Forest Safety Council, and the Canadian Standards Association.

The April 23, 2012, explosion also left more than 20 others with injuries, many of them serious.

This Matthew Robinson story is courtesy of the Vancouver Sun.

Click here for the BC Coroners inquest recommendations. (PDF format).

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Former Forest Magazine Columnist Bill Moore looks at chainsaw injuries in his column from November 1981

BC Lumberman Columnist Bill Moore The British Columbia Lumberman Magazine
November 1981

It has taken a long time, but a ray of light is shining through on our logging safety problems. It is not a greatly heralded program, nor is it the great cure-all for accident prevention. It is simply a ray of light on the always dark subject of logging safety.

This ray of light is the determination of a group of serious people from management, union and the Workers’ Compensation Board who have met over the past year to explore new and better safe production methods in our B.C. logging industry.

When we look back on the past 25 years of logging safety progress, we really find little change in the manner that accident prevention has been handled throughout our industry. This is not to say that progress has not been made. Of course it has and we can thank the good dedicated safety committees, managers, union committees and various safety administrators all over the province.

Progress in logging safety does not chart like a salesman’s daily sales program. It is an elusive and erratic chart that cannot be truly gauged on the short term, but only in the long term can we see the results.

The safety programs we have used, have nearly all been at the camp level, and when a camp of dedicated people have determined that they will improve their safety performance, they have done so by sheer determination.

Click to Listen - Where There Walks a Logger courtesy of Buzz Martin

Logging is still as hazardous as it always was, but automation has helped a bit, in certain places, to make the hazards less dangerous. Undoubtedly the job training programs that have come into being in these later years have helped, and the increased inspections of W.C.B. prevention officers, together with W. C. B. expanded training and teaching programs have certainly helped too. Their new Yarding and Loading Handbook is a “must read” for any logger from bullcook to president!

One could say we have progressed in our quest for a safer industry but we still have a long, long way to go. How can it be done?

The past results of say 25 years have shown us that logging safety is a successful as a joint venture between management and labor, at camp level, if it is a determined, continuous pro-gram. The program fails when one side or the other let down their guard and allows the tell-tale warnings of careless acts to slip by unnoticed.

Unfortunately, the logging companies that operate on the rugged coast of B.C., where the hazards are compounded, have long since moved away from a coordinated logging safety program to individual company programs. The interior of the province has some coordinated programs, but far from what could be considered industry-wide.

True there are and have been occasional meetings involving top management and union leaders – but they have been and are too few and generally limited to safety award dinners etc. The avenue of real co-operation and real impetus, for better accident prevention, has not been used as it should have been, between the leaders of management and union. I would challenge anyone who would care to debate this issue.

I have known those in near-top management who really do not want to see the leaders sit down together on safety issues. They worry that some management leaders may not be familiar with the technical aspects of logging accident prevention – on the other side, there have been those in the union that would use the safety issue to make management look bad.

There is so much emotionalism often associated with safety aspects – I know of no other topic in forestry that can bring out the defensive attitudes in people. Read some of the letters to the editor in past union papers and the topic of safety is discussed in brutal language. Listen, as I have, to those in management, who to this day, defend everything and anything that their company does as the only way in safety.

Listen to a group of loggers, such as a yarding crew, talking in a crummy, as they eat their lunch and you’ll hear emotional talk on safety – of the ‘near misses that damn near took his head off’.

Read the headlines of the daily papers as city reporters try to write about logging safety and the W.C.B. There’s some great emotionalism there.

You don’t generally find the emotionalism in a safety meeting of a camp that has a proper accident prevention program. This is where people understand the issues and can discuss them with a view to solving problems as they arise.

The logging industry needs all the help it can get in accident prevention, but above all else, it needs understanding. The hazardous conditions of logging must be clearly understood. The problems in dealing with hazards must be clearly understood by a sympathetic, well informed public and by a total force of management and union people.

There must be more teamwork in our approach to logging accident prevention. There is not now. The thirty, forty or fifty fatals a year cannot be tolerated by an industry that is working with some of the most sophisticated machinery in the world – yet some of the most untrained people.

The ray of light I spoke about at the beginning of this article is a group of people who are not emotional about working together. I am sure you will be hearing a lot more of the Nanaimo Group. They seem convinced that the logging industry can improve its accident and fatals record by total co-operation between management, union and W.C.B. They are looking at proper inter-industry instruction for fallers as a starter. The falling portion of our industry is a horror story that must be addressed.

We know the good camp safety committee system will work – with determination. Now we must expand that system and involve those outside the camp. It’s time that a few chairmen-of-the-board and vice-presidents mixed it up with the I.W.A. leaders in a gathering of trust – not defense – to show the camp committees and others that they will come to understand the real problems of logging accident prevention.

I note the great hue and cry about the costs of W.C.B. benefits today. Taking no part in this discussion – but being involved in one myself – I would point out the fantastic costs of medical services today. These costs alone – apart from human suffering – demand that we find new answers to our accident prevention problems. Possibly the difficult market conditions we are entering will help.

So, Nanaimo Group, keep it up – like any good safety committee your determination and understanding are what this industry needs today if we are to save lives and prevent accidents that need not happen. They will not happen if everyone co-operates.

Keep out of the bight,
Bill Moore

Click here to view this November 1981 British Columbia Lumberman article.

Bill Moore – logging contractor, forest industry statesman, community leader, health & safety advocate – was a prolific columnist who wrote about the challenges the west coast logging industry in many logging magazines including The British Columbia Lumberman and The Truck Logger. revisits some of Bill Moore's health and safety articles in an effort to both entertain and draw some perspective on how far we have come in addressing workers health and safety concerns over the last 30 years.
For additional background information on WD Moore Logging Ltd., visit their website at:


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]

West Coast Logging 1970s

This video is an edited version of the film titled "The Incredible Forest" which was produced by MacMillan Bloedel in the late 1960's-1970's. The film would have been used to educate the general public on the history of West Coast Logging and Forest Management Practices, and illustrates forest management practices in the 1970's while describing the uses of wood and wood by products. Video courtesy of the Pemberton Museum.

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