Companies appeal fines in B.C. sawmill explosions that killed four workers

The owners of the Lakeland mill in Prince George and the Babine mill in Burns Lake want a review

The companies that own the sawmills where two separate and fatal explosions occurred in northern B.C. are appealing their fines from WorkSafeBC.

Babine Forest Products is appealing its record $1.01 million fine that was levied in connection with the explosion and fire that killed two workers – Robert Luggi and Carl Charlie – and injured 20 others at its sawmill on Jan. 20, 2012.

Officials first announced their intention to do so when the fine was levied back in 2014, in part because Crown counsel had said it would not pursue criminal charges against the company because they had done their due diligence in managing foreseeable risks.

Meanwhile, Hampton Affiliates is appealing its $750,000 fine related to an explosion at the Lakeland Sawmill in Prince George on April 23, 2012. Two workers, Alan Little and Glenn Roche, were killed.

The Workers’ Compensation Tribunal will now review their requests.

The fines were the largest of its kind ever issued by B.C.’s safety watchdog.

WorksafeBC later concluded the explosions were likely caused by a build-up of wood dust that caught fire as a result of friction associated with mill equipment.

In 2014, the B.C. government hired former B.C. Ferries commissioner Gord Macatee to look into ways to improve worker safety at the province’s sawmills and beef up inspections at WorkSafeBC. He made 43 recommendations.

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