Babine Forest Products calls WorkSafeBC's attempt to fine company C$1M for fatal accident at sawmill in January 2012 'disingenuous' in light of official criticism of British Columbia safety agency's own handling of investigation, says it will appeal

BURNS LAKE, British Columbia , April 3, 2014 (press release) – We were disappointed to learn today that WorkSafe BC is attempting to fine Babine Forest Products Ltd. (“Babine”) approximately $1 million related to the tragic accident that occurred on January 20th, 2012 in Burns Lake. The Crown Counsel determined that evidence of Babine’s due diligence in managing foreseeable risks was enough to counter the charges recommended by WorkSafe BC under the Workers Compensation Act. Crown Counsel also concluded that WorkSafe BC did not perform an appropriate investigation of the accident. Based on that independent ruling, no charges were pursued. For WorkSafe BC to now propose a significant administrative penalty seems disingenuous, especially in light of this record, and the fact that WorkSafe BC must weigh the same considerations of due diligence as the Crown. We intend to appeal these proposed fines through the appropriate process.

Any dispute between Babine and WorkSafe BC should not be taken out of context. Babine regrets terribly the tragic accident that occurred the night of January 20th, 2012. Our sorrow, both for our people impacted and the community of Burns Lake, will always be present. Since the accident, Babine has worked with other industry leaders to analyze dust risks and develop related processes to ensure this will never happen again. Since the accident we have installed millions of dollars of specialized equipment at Decker Lake and the new Babine sawmill to make our operations cleaner and safer in relation to this risk. We have recently started up the new sawmill at Burns Lake and will continue to focus on making this a safe start-up for our employees and a successful long-term business for our stakeholders.

Due to the ongoing dispute resolution process, the Company will not be providing any more information to the media at this time.

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Babine Forest Products and Decker Lake Forest Products sawmills are a joint venture operated by Hampton Affiliates in partnership with the Burns Lake Native Development Corporation (BLNDC) of Burns Lake, B.C. BLNDC is comprised of six First Nations to identify and develop economic ventures and initiatives for and with Aboriginal people of the Lakes District. Hampton is a family-owned forest products business headquartered in Portland, Oregon, employing about 1,500 people primarily in Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia. Hampton owns approximately 90,000 acres of timberland, managed on a sustainable basis, certified through the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), and eight sawmills with normal lumber production capacity in excess of 2 billion board feet. Hampton also has wholesale and distribution operations that deliver building products to customers all over the world.

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