United Steelworkers Statement on Recommendations of Coroner's Inquest into Babine Forest Products Explosion

BURNABY, BC, Aug. 5, 2015 - Stephen Hunt, Director of the United Steelworkers District 3, released the following statement in response to the recommendations of the Coroner's Inquest into the Babine Forest Products sawmill explosion:

"This has been a very difficult and emotional time for victims, families and the entire community who have suffered through so much. We thank the jury for their diligent work on a very difficult case.

The inquest has underscored a number of important actions to improve the health and safety of workers for which the United Steelworkers has long advocated.

Unfortunately, while the inquest has completed its work many questions still remain:

  • How did the most expensive investigation in WorkSafeBC's existence fail to produce any results?
  • Why was the agency's investigation so flawed?
  • Could more communication and better enforcement and compliance by WorkSafeBC have prevented this disaster and/or the explosion at the Lakeland mill?
  • How can workers have any confidence that the agency is in a better position today to do its job?
  • How will WorkSafeBC be held accountable for its failures?

There are now even more outstanding questions and British Columbians are left wondering how long they must wait before these questions are answered. It's time for the Premier to live up to her government's commitment of justice for victims by calling a public inquiry.

The United Steelworkers has a long history of standing up for the health and safety of workers. The union's past efforts have resulted in the creation of the Westray Law and a dedicated Crown Attorney for forest industry fatalities.

The USW's campaign for a public inquiry into the sawmill explosions can be found at www.usw.ca/inquiry. Over 11,000 British Columbians have signed a petition in support of a public inquiry."

For further information:

Stephen Hunt, USW District 3 Director, 604-816-2554;

Brad West, USW Communications, 604-313-9185, bwest@usw.ca

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