B.C.’s Coroners’ Service has announced it will hold a single public inquest into the deaths of four sawmill workers who died in separate explosions in 2012.
The Chief coroner will preside over the inquest looking into the blasts at the Babine Forest Products mill in Burns Lake and the Lakeland mill in Prince George.
Lisa Lapointe says the decision to hold the single inquest was made after a careful examination of the issues common to both explosions.
“We decided that one inquest that would review the circumstances of each of the four deaths, and also review in aggregate all of the information available about policy, training, safety issues, would have more impact, and would be able to review more thoroughly any of the issues that arise.”
“We know historically that there is significant value in people hearing first hand from those who know what went on. And they also have the ability to ask questions, so coroner’s counsel can ask on behalf of families.”
A jury could make non-binding recommendations in the hopes of preventing similar deaths in the future.
The explosions were partly blamed on an accumulation of wood dust, but no charges were ever laid because the Crown had concerns that the evidence collected by WorkSafeBC wouldn’t be admissible in court.