Worksafe BC says allegations it didn’t crack down on wood dust after the 2012 Babine Lake mill explosion because it feared industry push back are off-base.
The United Steelworkers Union claims an internal Worksafe memo written in the time between the Babine Lake and Lakeland Mills explosions proves the regulator was concerned about industry push back.
But Worksafe Vice President of Prevention Services Al Johnson says that’s untrue. He says the memo was not a policy document, but was written by a regional manager for local staff who were facing a barrage of questions. He says it was an effort to summarize what little was known in the chaotic weeks following the Babine blast.
“This by no means was a reflection of anything provincially. This was a local memo and a local response, immediately on the heels of what was happening at Babine.”
Johnson says both workers and management were sensitive after the blast. But he says the cause of the explosion was still undetermined, and creating enforcement policy without information was impossible.
“This is really, at that time, four weeks post-Babine, we didn’t have all the answers. Once we had the answers, once we had a better insight into what was happening, we certainly went full force with enforcement.”
Worksafe BC is also questioning why the union has chose now to circulate the memo. He says the it appeared in the Babine Lake coroner’s inquest, and that the union has always had access to it.