October 24, 2014 - 2:05 PM
VERNON - The jury in a B.C. Coroners inquest into the death of a teen employee at Tolko’s Lavington mill made seven recommendations in the hopes of preventing future tragedies.
Bradley Haslam, 18, died after getting entangled in a conveyer belt at the mill in June 2013. The grade 12 Charles Bloom Secondary student had been working the graveyard clean-up shift Fridays and Saturdays since March of that year. Usually, all machinery is shut down when the night workers come in, but that night, equipment was still running to accomodate extra production. A WorkSafe B.C. inspection report released shortly after the accident stated safeguards were not sufficient to prevent workers from coming into contact with hazardous areas.
The seven person jury, made up of six men and one woman, found Haslam died of blunt trauma and classified his death as accidental. The jurors made seven recommendations mostly focused on worker fatigue, training protocols for new and/or young workers, and using the lessons Tolko learned from the death industry-wide.
Over the four day inquest, jurors heard that after the accident, Tolko made substantial changes including the establishment of a buddy system and the installation of protective guards throughout the mill. Several witnesses said Tolko has become an industry leader in terms of workplace safety.
They also heard how exhausting the graveyard clean-up shift can be, especially for high school employees. They heard reference to workers falling asleep at the wheel on their way home, and being so exhausted they couldn’t relate to their own name.
Haslam’s family attended every day of the proceedings, and his mother testified as the first witness. She described him as a passionate, determined and caring young man who enjoyed hockey, mountain biking and hanging out with friends. After the jury made its recommendations, she declined an interview with the media, but expressed relief at the conclusion of the inquest.
To WorkSafe B.C., the jurors made four recommendations: 1) develop an educational tool about the risks associated with worker fatigue; 2) include worker fatigue as a component of the CORE Audit; 3) review and research with industry new training styles/curriculum for young/new workers; and 4) that workplace inspections incorporate all shifts including day, afternoon, graveyard and weekend shifts.
The jury recommended the B.C. Ambulance Service ensure counselling be made available in a timely fashion to ambulance attendants following calls of traumatic arrest and similar critical incidents.
Pat Donnelly, the Lavington plant manager, was recommended to produce an educational tool to share across all Tolko operations and industry that describes the lessons learned and depicts the safety standards accomplished since Haslam’s death.
The B.C. Forest Safety Council Manufacturing Advisory Group was recommended to use the Lavington mill’s approach to safety measures as a benchmark.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014