United Steelworkers union urges British Columbia to release 'crucial facts' from investigation into Babine Forest Products tragedy, says information could prevent further sawmill tragedies

BURNABY, British Columbia , April 24, 2012 (press release) – The United Steelworkers (USW) union extends its deepest condolences to the families of workers killed and injured at the Lakeland Sawmill in Prince George, B.C.

The USW, which represents the sawmill workers, also is urging provincial authorities to make public information it hopes could prevent further tragedies at B.C. sawmills.

"On behalf of all USW members, I wish to express our heartfelt sympathy to the workers and their families trying to cope with this terrible tragedy," said Stephen Hunt, United Steelworkers Director for Western Canada.

One worker has died and 24 others have been injured from the explosion and fire that struck the sawmill Monday night.

"The United Steelworkers are shocked and saddened that another devastating and fatal sawmill explosion and fire has occurred in British Columbia," Hunt said.

The USW also represents workers who were employed at the Babine Forest Products sawmill in Burns Lake, B.C., where an explosion and fire in January killed two workers and injured 19 others.

The union has sent letters to B.C. Labour Minister Margaret MacDiarmid, WorkSafe BC and the RCMP, requesting relevant information related to the investigation into the Burns Lake tragedy in January.

"Although the investigation is ongoing, relevant and potentially crucial facts and information must be made available immediately to workers, unions, and sawmill operators to ensure all precautions are taken to avoid further tragedies," Hunt said.

"We expect authorities will agree and that they will act swiftly and that we can work together to prevent another tragedy."

The USW also has sent members of its Emergency Response Team to Prince George, as well as to Vancouver and Edmonton - where some injured workers have been sent to hospital - to help the workers and their families cope with the tragedy.


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