Day 9 of the Coroner’s Inquest began about a half hour behind schedule this morning as council privately addressed legal matters before hearing today’s first testimony.
Kim Hess is an Occupational Hygiene Officer with WorkSafe BC who had visited Babine Forest Sawmill 2 months before the explosion.
On her visit, she tested dust levels around the mill by placing monitors on 5 workers.
Her research found that 4 of them were overexposed to dust.
The basement employee was the most at-risk, working in almost 3-and-a-half times more dust than the WorkSafeBC limit.
Hess ran a second test to measure the plant’s finer, inhalable dusts. Worksafe BC does not have a standard for this, but this dust is linked to cancer and respitory diseases. Hess found all workers tested were above the American standard, one in particular was working in almost 23 times the limit.
Hess said the dust levels at Babine Forest were “significantly higher” than the other two plants she was tested.
Hess says she wasn’t aware wood dust could cause explosions of that magnitude.
The inquest is scheduled to end Tuesday afternoon, but could run until at least Wednesday.
Testimonies will continue tomorrow at 9 AM at the Island Gospel Fellowship in Burns Lake.