WorkSafe B.C. has fined Nanaimo Forest Products following an investigation into the death of an employee that occurred at its Harmac Pacific mill in 2016.
Chris Fletcher, a Harmac Pacific employee who was 37 at the time of his accident in March 2016, was fatally injured when a wood chip pile he was standing on gave way underneath him and he fell into a chip bin.
WorkSafe B.C. made public its findings from its investigation in the March/April issue of its trade magazine WorkSafe, stating that Nanaimo Forest Products was fined $284,196 in November.
According to the article, the company had not conducted a risk assessment or developed safe work procedures for the area Fletcher was working in at the time of the accident and that the work area had not been properly guarded or marked to warn of a potential hazard. It also noted the chip bin’s conveyor system operated automatically and there was no method to alert other workers of an emergency and that the chip bin hopper had no method for escape should a worker fall into it.
The article also said the company failed to give its workers the necessary information, instruction and training to ensure workers’ health and safety.
Grant Brebber, Nanaimo Forest Products administration manager, said the company has addressed the issues described in the report.
“All of the safety issues associated with that work activity have been addressed and we’ve added some new technology to even make it safer for workers … That was done very quickly. It wasn’t done last November. It was done in very short order after the actual incident back in 2016,” Brebber said.
He said the company had not received further instruction from WorkSafe regarding anything it might need to do to satisfy WorkSafe B.C. safety requirements that arose from the incident investigation.
“The work activities and the procedures and practices had all been in place for decades and just all these events came together at the wrong time and it resulted in a tragic event there,” Brebber said. “We were shocked and saddened by the whole event … It was devastating to the group here.”