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HomeNews10-year anniversary of two Northern BC sawmill explosions underlines National Day of...

10-year anniversary of two Northern BC sawmill explosions underlines National Day of Mourning

Today (Thursday) is the National Day of Mourning and this year, it has a little more significance for us here in Northern BC.

It marks the ten-year anniversary of the devastating sawmill explosions at Babine Forest Products in Burns Lake as well as Lakeland Mills in Prince George.

United Steelworks 1-2017 President, Brian O’Rourke told Vista Radio it’s a period of time that’s still fresh in the union’s mind.

“Babine was January 20th and Lakeland’s was April 23rd. Those are two days that I can tell you we will never forget in this local. We had four members unfortunately that were killed and 40 more that were injured with a lot of them not returning to work again.

In 2021, 161 people died from work-related injuries or illnesses in British Columbia, 53 of which passed away due to Asbestosis.

O’Rourke stated that the number is way too high.

“Those numbers are not acceptable. We need to fight and try and do our best to get those numbers down and we shouldn’t be happy until we get to zero in those numbers. Anybody who goes to work on a daily basis to support their families or loved ones, they deserve to come home the same way they went to work.”

“Unfortunately, there are employers out there who try and take shortcuts and who utilize individuals who have no knowledge of the hazardous materials they are dealing with and they put them in a place where they could end up with serious illness or injury and potentially leading to death in the future.”

O’Rourke also noted a scaled back ceremony is taking place in Prince George on Queensway Street where the flags will be lowered to half-mast by the North Central Labour Council.

Last year, no accepted work-related death claims were made in the Fraser-Fort George or Northern Rockies regional districts according to WorkSafe BC. However, the Cariboo and Skeena Haida Gwaii recorded two each. Bulkley-Nechako and Kitimat-Stikine tallied six apiece in 2021.

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