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UPDATE: 18 year old victim killed in conveyor belt at Tolko mill

Bradley Haslam was killed Saturday at the Tolko Industries planer mill in Lavington.
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June 17, 2013 - 4:38 PM

UPDATE: 4:35 p.m. June 

A member of a clean-up crew at the the Tolko planer mill in Lavington became entangled in a conveyer belt.

In a statement released this afternoon, Tolko president and CEO Brad Thorlakson says Bradley Haslam, 18, was discovered by the shift supervisor, who freed him from the equipment.

He goes on to say two others joined the supervisor to administer emergency first aid until medical services arrived on the scene. Bradley was transported to Vernon Jubilee Hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly after arrival, despite the best efforts of everyone involved.

The statement continues:
"As a company, we are extremely saddened by the loss of Bradley Haslam and extend our sincerest sympathy to his family and loved ones during this difficult time. To know that a family has been forever changed by this tragedy is devastating. No words can convey the pain. The loss is heart wrenching, the impact lasting. Today, and for many days to come, our hearts will be with the family and friends of this young man as they face the unimaginable.
Our thoughts will also be with our employees at the Lavington Division as they return to work, because the days ahead will be difficult. We will have our Employee Family Assistance Program (EFAP) provider on site to offer support, and I encourage anyone needing help to seek out these services. I especially want to thank those who responded to the accident for their efforts to save this young man’s life. Their efforts are well appreciated.
As an organization, safety is our most important value. This tragedy serves to remind us of the vital importance of safety in our workplace. When something goes terribly wrong, as it did on Saturday morning, we have to step-back, re-evaluate, and move forward with a strong resolve to make sure a tragedy like this doesn’t happen again. For my part, I renew my commitment to take a leadership role across the organization to ensure everyone understands that safety is at the core of Tolko. This tragedy serves as a personal call to action for all of us to look out for each other and to make sure that everyone is safe."


UPDATE: 2:45 p.m. June 17, 2013

The investigation into the fatal industrial accident at the Tolko Industries Lavington planer mill is going to be a tough one.

Bradley Michael Thomas Haslam, 18, of Lumby died while working on an overnight maintenance crew at the mill early Saturday morning.

According to the B.C. Coroner's Service he was found by co-workers severely injured. Haslam was rushed to Vernon Jubilee Hospital by ambulance and pronounced dead shortly after he arrived.

WorkSafe investigators were at the mill near Lumby in the North Okanagan all day Saturday.

Jeff Dolan, the director of investigation services with WorkSafe B.C., tells InfoTel News the goal of the investigation is to determine what happened. What were the causes and underlying factors that led to the accident.

"One of the challenges we'll have in this incident is the fact this was unwitnessed."

This is going to be a complex and fairly lengthy investigation.

"It's too early to tell if any enforcement action will be taken, but if the facts dictate, we may have to go down that road," Dolan says.

Investigators work and share information with the coroner to determine, to the very best of their ability, what happened.

"The goal is to then find out how can it be prevented from happening again."

Tolko is a family owned company. The Thorlakson's lost one of their family members at the same mill a number of years ago.

Dolan says the relevance of a previous event is determined by the current event.

"If there is a need to examine of the history and it's relevant they (the investigators) will do so," Dolan says. "They (the investigators) haven't categorized it as being a dangerous work environment or more dangerous than any other mills that are operating."

It may take several months for the investigation to be conducted and a final report written. But Dolan says WorkSafe wants to capitalize on any lessons they learn by sharing with the rest of the industry.

"That's why we ensure any information we learn along the way that could prevent a similar incident from occurring we want to make sure we get that out. We won't be waiting until the end of the investigation to do so."

To contact the reporter for this story, email Howard Alexander at or call (250) 491-0331.


UPDATE: 11:15 a.m. June 17, 2013 

VERNON - We are learning more about a tragic industrial accident at the Tolko Industries planer mill in Lavington.

The victim's name has been released by the BC Coroner's Service.

Bradley Michael Thomas Haslam, 18, of Lumby died while working on an overnight maintenance crew at the mill early Saturday morning.

He was found by co-workers serverly injured. Haslam was rushed to Vernon Jubilee Hospital by ambulance. He was pronounced dead shortly after he arrived.

His family has been notified of his death.

The circumstances of his death haven't been released by the Coroner's Service or WorkSafe BC, who are both investigating.



10:14 a.m. June 17, 2013

VERNON - An industrial accident at a Tolko mill in the Okanagan has claimed the life of an 18 year old worker.

The accident happened around 2 a.m. Saturday at Tolko's Lavington planer mill near Lumby. The teenaged boy was part of a clean-up crew at the mill.

Regional coroner Larry Marzinzik tells InfoTel News the Coroner's Service and WorkSafe BC are investigating. The RCMP and BC Ambulance responded to the call.

"I have no information regarding the victim at this time," says Marzinzik. "It involves a sudden death. That's the only information I have because the investigation is preliminary."

The coroner couldn't comment on the circumstances surrounding the death. Marzinzik says there will be more information released on Monday.

We are extremely saddened by this event and extend our sincerest sympathies to the family and loved ones,” said Rob Fraser, general manager, Southern Interior.

“We are currently assisting WorkSafe BC and the BC Coroner’s office with the investigation of this unfortunate accident as well as conducting our own internal review. Operations at the mill will be curtailed today and will remain so until WorkSafe BC gives the go ahead to restart.”

He said the young man was a casual part-time worker who started at the planer mill in February or March.

"As an industrial site from time to time it has incidents that require medical attention, but as mills in our industry go it's generally been a very safe mill," said Fraser.

The 25 people working on the weekend maintenance crew have been idled by the accident.

Fraser said when operations at the Lavington planer mill resume, Tolko's Employee and Family Assistance Program will provide on-site support to crews as they return to work.

Tolko communications advisor Janice Lockyer said President and CEO Brad Thorlakson is devastated by the accident. Tolko is a family owned company.

"The Thorlakson's themselves lost one of their family members at that mill. It was a number of years ago. It makes it a particularly tough day."

Tolko manufactures lumber, unbleached draft papers, panel products, co-products, biomass power and specialty wood products at it's operations across western Canada.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Howard Alexander at or call (250) 491-0331.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013
InfoTel News Ltd

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