Workers involved in the two fatal sawmill blasts in B.C. in 2012 have filed a claim for a class-action lawsuit against WorkSafe BC and the provincial government.
Separate explosions at the Babine Forest Products Mill in Burns Lake and the Lakeland Mill in Prince George killed a total of four workers and injured more than 40.
The suit, filed in BC Supreme Court, alleges WorkSafe BC was negligent in failing to issue any orders or penalties after investigations turned up combustible wood dust at both sites before the explosions.
“As WorkSafe knew or ought to have known, these failures would and in fact did cause the Class Members to suffer physical harm and/or acute and prolonged psychiatric harm.”
The suit also claims the investigation that followed the explosions was botched, resulting in no criminal charges being laid in the disaster.
“WorkSafe failed or refused to adequately consider the possibility that a criminal negligence charge against either or both of hte respective companies may have been warranted. As a result, Worksafe failed or refused to gather evidence of possible criminal wrongdoing adequately or at all.”
Workers in B.C. are legally blocked form suing an employer if hurt on the job, with WorkSafe BC instead given the job of protecting workers, while investigating and adjudicating disputes.
The suit claims that because of this, WorkSafe has a special duty to workers, which was breached in the aftermath of the explosions violating workers charter rights to life, liberty, and security of the person.
None of the allegations has been proven in court.