Vernon News

Buddy system now in place at Tolko mill after death of teen, inquiry hears

Bradley Haslam, 18, was a student at Charles Bloom Secondary and the captain of his hockey team.
Image Credit: Facebook

VERNON - Changes have been made at Tolko’s Lavington mill since the death of a teenage worker, a coroner’s inquest heard Tuesday.

Roger Marshall was the supervisor the night Bradley Haslam, 18, became entangled in a conveyer belt and died. Bradley, whose family asked that he be referred to by his first name during the inquest, was one of 17 employees under Marshall’s watch during a graveyard shift June 15.

Since the accident, Marshall says a buddy system was put in place and guards were installed around the conveyer belt. Haslam was working by himself the night he died and Marshall says there were no barriers around the equipment.

No more than seven minutes and twenty seconds after last checking on Bradley (Marshall retraced his steps after the accident to time himself) he noticed something wasn’t right with a piece of machinery.

“I could see that he was entangled in the conveyer,” Marshall said, choking back sobs. “I hollered down to him (and) ran down immediately.”

Bradley had no pulse and was cyanotic (turning blue), Marshall said. His arm was stuck in the equipment up to his neck. Marshall activated the emergency system and used a chainsaw to cut Bradley free. He performed CPR until paramedics arrived, refusing to let anyone take over for him.

“I couldn’t leave Brad,” he said.

Marshall noted an air hose was right in front of Bradley, and speculated he may have been taking a shortcut by passing it under the machine when his glove caught on the equipment and pulled him in. He said Bradley was told not to go near the machine, and had been assigned a different area to clean until the conveyer was shut off.

“I don’t know why he went in there,” Marshall said.

He described Bradley as a fast learner, someone he would soon be able to give more challenging duties to. His orientation to the job primarily involved hands-on training and demonstrations, Marshall said.

Asked if he had any recommendations for the jury, Marshall suggested nothing beyond what Tolko has already done. He did say the ratio of one supervisor to 17 workers was tough work, and that he’d asked for help.

The inquest continues Wednesday, and is expected to conclude Thursday. Marshall is one of 21 witnesses called.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

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