United Steelworkers union calls for immediate action to ensure sawmills in British Columbia comply with wood dust safety directives, director says directives without regulations are 'simply not good enough'

BURNABY, British Columbia , March 5, 2014 (press release) – WorkSafeBC must take immediate action to protect the safety of sawmill workers, says the United Steelworkers.

Inspection reports from WorkSafeBC have revealed that some of B.C.'s biggest forest companies continue to violate wood dust safety directives.

"We have already lost too many lives of people who simply went to work for this issue to be taken so lightly. Directives without regulations are simply not good enough," says Stephen Hunt, United Steelworkers western Director. "Tougher regulations must be introduced that allow any worker with safety concerns to shut down an area of a mill because of unsafe dust levels."

Eleven companies faced stop-work orders during inspections between November 2013 and January 2014 due to excessive wood dust accumulations, including Canfor, Tolko, Weyerhaeuser and Western Forest Products.

"WorkSafeBC's current approach is clearly not working. It's well beyond time for meaningful regulation that ensures mandatory steps to protect the safety of sawmill workers," says Bob Matters, Chair of the United Steelworkers Wood Council.

SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW) 

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