The head of the B.C. Forest Safety Council says it’s unusual for a sawmill to be cited for as many safety violations as Meadow Creek Cedar.
“This scenario is very limited in the industry,” Reynold Hert wrote in an email to the Star. “Most operators have safety systems in place and the industry has had a major effort to improve its safety systems over the past five years.”
Following inspections last year by WorkSafeBC, Meadow Creek Cedar was served with more than 30 orders dealing with its Lardeau Valley sawmill and area logging roads
Among the violations was not having a certified first aid attendant on site and not providing proper safety training to workers, particularly Mexican migrants.
The Forest Safety Council, a non-profit group established in 2004, lists as its mission eliminating fatalities and serious injuries in the sector.
They also provide auditing and certification for the SAFE companies initiative, which is “designed to assist companies in improving their safety performance and to evaluate company safety programs using industry recognized audit protocols.”
Many or most local forest companies are among the 2,500 SAFE certified — but the list does not include Meadow Creek Cedar.
Hert, the Safety Council’s chief executive officer, says recent efforts have resulted in a 30 per cent decrease in the injury rate.
“WorkSafeBC does have its officers inspect the forest industry and other industries, and has the ability to issue orders, fines, and shut down operations for unsafe conditions,” he notes. “At this point, between the actions of concerned employees and WorkSafeBC officers, [Meadow Creek Cedar] is being required to deal with its issues.”
Last week, Meadow Creek posted an on-line ad for a first aid attendant with a class three industrial first aid ticket, “to start as soon as possible.”
It is also seeking a registered professional forester and a millwright.
There are no provisions in the Forest Act for a company to be stripped of its timber license due to safety infractions.
The province can suspend or cancel a license if the licensee misrepresents or omits its license application or operation plan, fails to perform obligations such as paying stumpage, or fails to comply with forest legislation.
The Star has been unable to reach Meadow Creek representatives for comment.