West Fraser lumber. File photo.

Worker buried in sawdust in a shavings bin at West Fraser B.C. Sawmill

WorksafeBC said rescue was needed on one occasion as the worker was unable to help themself

A worker at the Chasm Sawmill division of West Fraser was buried to about head or chest depth in a wood shavings bin area and needed to be rescued, according to a WorkSafeBC report.

“A worker performing clean up during maintenance type work inside a bin approximately 50 to 80 feet high, 30 feet wide, was engulfed by sawdust and/or wood shavings type recovery waste product,” according to the report. “The need for rescue did arise and the lone worker was engulfed and unable to self-rescue.”

The incident was not immediately reported to the board and between the time of the worker being buried and the conclusion of the full investigation, work resumed.

“This employer did not immediately undertake a preliminary investigation that identified all the unsafe conditions, acts or procedures as far as possible, in order to ensure that work can be continued or resumed,” according to the report. “Also, according to information provided by the employer, another worker was engulfed; however, that worker managed to self-rescue.”

The report notes that West Fraser failed to ensure adequate protection from entrapment or engulfment, a serious health and/or safety hazard.

The worker who entered the wood shavings recovery type bin, “was not provided with and did not wear a lifeline and harness, and was not continuously tended by a standby person who is equipped for and capable of effecting immediate rescue.”

WorkSafeBC was notified approximately one week later during a routine inspection, according to the report.

“This employer failed to ensure the scene of an accident that is reportable under subsection (1) was not disturbed, to permit investigate, and prevent potential injuries or death, and any other worker(s) being engulfed.”

A preliminary investigation report was completed and provided to a WorkSafeBC officer. West Fraser has since developed and performed a risk assessment, developed a safe work procedure for entering the shavings bin and as of Nov. 21 planned an emergency drill for confined space and/or enclosed space within the next 30 days.

Part of the actions includes no entry into the bin unless the material is four feet or less.

“A Vac truck and hose system will be used from outside the bin when materials are greater than four feet.”

The 100 Mile Free Press has contacted West Fraser but has not yet received a response.


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