United Steelworkers union calls for public inquiry into WorkSafeBC's investigation into sawmill explosions in Burns Lake and Prince George, claims release of action plan fails to restore confidence in agency's ability to keep workers safe

BURNABY, British Columbia , July 15, 2014 (press release) – Agency's review and action plan fail to restore confidence in worker safety, Steelworkers call for inquiry into Babine and Lakeland explosions

The WorkSafeBC Review and Action Plan released today by the B.C. government fails to restore confidence in the agency's ability to keep workers safe, says the United Steelworkers (USW).

"In the aftermath of the horrific explosions in Burns Lake and Prince George and WorkSafeBC's botched investigations, it is abundantly clear the agency's problems run deep and are engrained in a culture of secrecy. Unfortunately, nothing in this report fixes these problems," says USW Western Canada Director Stephen Hunt.

"The families who lost loved ones and have been horribly affected by the sawmill explosions deserve better. The recommendations do little more than tinker around the edges of a very flawed agency. The report fails to provide any explanation to the debacle that was WorkSafeBC's investigation. A public inquiry is required to provide answers to family members, workers and the public. Only then can WorkSafeBC hope to rebuild its standing," Hunt says.

Last October the USW launched a national campaign - Stop The Killing. Enforce The Law. The campaign calls on provincial and federal governments to enforce the Westray Law that holds corporate executives criminally responsible where negligence leads to workplace death.

"In February 2012 our union met with WorkSafeBC to request a dedicated prosecutor and increased training and awareness for police officers and Crown counsel specifically for enforcement of the Westray Law. This was followed by letters to the agency on March 9 and July 10 of 2012. Clearly, they dropped the ball and continue to do so," says Hunt.

SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)
For further information:
Stephen Hunt, USW Western Canada Director, 604-816-2554
Brad West, USW Communications, 604-754-1174, bwest@usw.ca 

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