RICHMOND, BC - WorkSafeBC has concluded the first phase of its investigation into the incident in which two workers died and many others were seriously injured at the Babine Forest Products Mill site in Burns Lake earlier this year.

“The first phase of the investigation has concluded and we will be vacating and releasing the site to the employer on Thursday, April 19,” said Jeff Dolan, Director of Investigations for WorkSafeBC. “Our focus now will be on the testing and analysis of the evidence we gathered over the past 12 weeks.”

WorkSafeBC has had an investigative team at the mill since the incident, and examined the complex and hazardous site for ignition and fuel sources that could have caused the explosion. In recent weeks, cranes and other heavy equipment were brought in to selectively remove debris and allow access to areas of interest within the site. At this time, all pertinent areas of interest have been fully examined and all evidence has been removed for further detailed analysis and lab testing to identify the causal and underlying factors that led to the explosion.

WorkSafeBC has been the lead agency of jurisdiction since January 26 at this site, and the BC Safety Authority has been working in cooperation with WorkSafeBC to examine all areas under its jurisdiction. To date, WorkSafeBC investigators have conducted in excess of 80 witness interviews of those who were involved in the incident including mill employees, the employer, and anyone else with pertinent information about the explosion. There have been as many as 20 WorkSafeBC personnel working on the investigation since it was initiated.

The next phase of the investigation will be equally complex and is expected to take many more months to conclude. The families of the deceased, along with the employer, have been informed of WorkSafeBC’s departure from the site and the status of the investigation.

WorkSafeBC will publicly release the findings of its investigation upon its conclusion in the coming months in the community of Burns Lake.

WorkSafeBC is an independent provincial statutory agency governed by a Board of Directors that serves nearly 2.3 million workers and about 202,000 employers. WorkSafeBC was born out of a compromise between B.C.’s workers and employers in 1917 where workers gave up the right to sue their employers and fellow workers for injuries on the job in return for a no-fault insurance program fully paid for by employers. The organization is committed to safe and healthy workplaces and to providing return-to-work rehabilitation and legislated compensation benefits.

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