BC Safety Authority releases full investigation report into 2012 Babine Forest Products sawmill explosion

New Westminster, BC, January 16, 2014—BC Safety Authority (BCSA) today released its investigation report into the January 2012 fatal explosion and fire at the Babine Forest Products sawmill in Burns Lake.

“We conducted an extensive investigation to determine whether regulated technical equipment or work may have contributed to the Babine incident,” said Phil Gothe, Vice-President of Technical Programs for BCSA.

BCSA’s full report was not previously released in order to avoid compromising Crown Counsel’s review of WorkSafeBC’s charge referral. However, in January 2013, BCSA published a Recommendations Report with nine recommendations arising from its investigation, and has issued three safety orders since 2012 to improve safety in the wood processing industry. Now that the Crown processes have been completed, BCSA is able to fully release its report.

“Following the conclusion of Crown’s review, and the release of WorkSafeBC’s investigation report, we are now able to share our full report with industry and the public,” said Gothe. “The full report provides additional information and context into our investigation process and findings.”

BCSA determined from the investigation that the root cause of the Babine explosion was the failure to control the hazard created by combustible wood dust.

“We continue to work with industry to implement the recommendations arising from the Babine incident to improve the management of safety risks from regulated equipment and work,” said Gothe. “Efforts by industry and workers have led to dust management plans that outline how companies and operators will manage the risks associated with gas, electrical, and boiler and pressure vessel equipment in 344 mills and wood processing facilities across BC.”

BCSA’s recommendations are also informing ongoing work with the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) to improve national electrical and gas codes across Canada.

“Many people were terribly affected by this tragedy, as well as the explosion and fire at Lakeland Mills in April 2012. We can never forget that four people lost their lives, and 42 people were seriously injured, their families and loved ones affected forever. We are humbled by their strength, and by the communities’ unwavering spirit to ensure change comes about as a result.”

For more information on BCSA’s actions to improve safety in the wood processing industry, visit: www.safetyauthority.ca/combustible-dust

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BC Safety Authority is an independent, self-funded organization mandated to oversee the safe installation and operation of technical systems and equipment. In addition to issuing permits, licenses and certificates, it works with industry to reduce safety risks through assessment, education and outreach, enforcement, and research.

Media inquiries, please contact:

BC Safety Authority

Media Relations

Tel. 778-396-2164

media@safetyauthority.ca

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