While Meadow Creek Cedar has made progress addressing old safety violations

While Meadow Creek Cedar has made progress addressing old safety violations

Violations continue to pile up for Meadow Creek Cedar

A WorkSafeBC report says Meadow Creek Cedar has complied with orders issued as a result of safety inspections last year but is not being proactive enough.

A WorkSafeBC report says Meadow Creek Cedar has complied with orders issued as a result of safety inspections last year but is not being proactive enough.

Follow-up inspections last month found an additional 27 infractions, 11 stemming from an incident on January 15 in which a migrant worker’s thumb was partly severed. According to the report, the injury was not investigated or reported, and the worker declined further medical treatment after speaking with the mill’s owner. The company faces a fine.

WorkSafeBC also issued four orders as the result of an accident described last month in the Star in which a worker’s leg was broken when hit by a log.

“From a conversation held on site with the operation manager there appears to be confusion as to what the respective roles and responsibilities are for WorkSafeBC and the employer,” the report says.

While there has been ongoing work to comply with over two dozen orders issued after a December inspection, “there seems to be little proactive safety work. The employer needs to set up a system for conducting hazard assessments to ensure safety issues are addressed prior to being pointed out by WorkSafe officers.

“It is not sufficient simply to obey orders of the board’s officers after a violation, injury or disease has occurred,” the report says.

Officers walked through the mill with employer representative Dak Giles and found the company complying with previous orders, with a few exceptions. Other deficiencies were also noted, resulting in additional orders. The company was given until last Friday to explain in writing how it would address some of them and until March 15 to deal with the rest.

The report notes the Lardeau Valley operation has been cited for breaking the same regulations within the last three years, and as a result “further enforcement in the form of a warning letter or penalty is very likely to be presented.”

It added: “The partial amputation of a worker’s left thumb, another worker having their leg broken and other non-compliance orders issued in this inspection report and previous inspection reports indicates that the employer is not meeting the requirements for providing workers with adequate information, instruction, supervision and training …”

While officers couldn’t learn much about the migrant worker who lost part of his thumb, they said he was employed by a contractor hired by Meadow Creek Cedar. He didn’t speak English so his safety orientation was completed through an interpreter. Neither Meadow Creek Cedar nor the contractor investigated or reported the incident as required, and WorkSafeBC only learned about it through an anonymous tip.

“[T]he injured worker received first aid treatment and refused further medical attention after talking to the worksite owner via telephone,” the officers wrote, concluding this breached a rule that prevents employers from discouraging accident reporting.

“Based upon the violations cited in this inspection report … WorkSafeBC has determined that there are grounds for imposing an administrative penalty.”

The worker’s contract employer, Can-Pacific Farms, is controlled by Meadow Creek Cedar owner Dale Kooner, who did not return messages seeking comment. The migrant workers have since returned to Mexico.

In issuing four orders resulting from the incident in which an employee’s leg was broken, the report says steps were not immediately taken to avoid a repeat, and that when officers attended the site, the log that struck the worker and other debris had not been cleaned up.

The remaining 12 orders dealt with specific pieces of equipment and things such as adding radio communications to the emergency transportation vehicle.

The report said the company complied with previous orders to clean the vehicle and remove lawn chairs used to transport workers. The mill also hired a first aid attendant, but has been ordered to establish a communications system so the attendant is immediately available to respond when needed.