15 January 2013

BC Safety Authority releases recommendations following investigation into Babine Forest Products explosion and fire

BC Safety Authority (BCSA) today released a recommendations report on its investigation into the explosion and fire at Babine Forest Products near Burns Lake BC. This tragic incident occurred January 20, 2012, killing two workers in the mill and injuring twenty more. The sawmill facility itself was destroyed by the explosion and fire.

The recommendations report intends to improve safety in the wood processing industry. The full investigation report is not being released at this time to avoid compromising Crown Counsel’s review of a referral from WorkSafeBC. According to BC Safety Authority President and CEO, Catherine Roome, “we have chosen this approach because it balances our respect for that process with our responsibility for promoting safety.”

BCSA conducted an independent investigation into the incident to assess the installation and operation of regulated technical equipment at the mill. The goal of BCSA’s investigation was to determine whether equipment or work subject to the Safety Standards Act contributed to the incident.

According to Greg Paddon, BCSA Director of Technical Programs, “our aim was to conduct a thorough investigation and learn all we could to prevent the recurrence of similar incidents. Now we can use that knowledge to initiate improvements toward the management of safety risks.”

As a result of the investigation, BCSA has made nine recommendations directed at wood processing facility owners and operators, the BC Office of the Fire Commissioner and the Canadian Standards Association.

“Our recommendations are intended to improve how and by whom hazardous locations are identified, documented, and ultimately managed in order to reduce the risk of this type of incident ever happening again,” says Paddon.

BCSA’s enforcement actions include issuance of two Safety Orders for wood processing facilities. In support of the recommendations, a third Safety Order has been drafted and an industry consultation begins immediately. BCSA has also issued four Compliance Orders related to this incident and is drafting an Information Bulletin to be distributed before the end of the month.

The recommendations report may be accessed at: http://safetyauthority.ca/sites/default/files/babine-recommendations-report-final.pdf

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, licences and certificates we work with industry to reduce safety risks through assessment, education and outreach, enforcement, and research.

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Important Links:

Safety Order – Electrical equipment located in sawmills
Safety Order - Electrical equipment located in wood pellet manufacturing plants
Draft Safety Order

Media inquiries, please contact:
BC Safety Authority
Media Relations
Tel. 778-396-2164
media@safetyauthority.ca