Sobriety checks implemented at Tolko following boom boat driver's death - InfoNews

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Sobriety checks implemented at Tolko following boom boat driver's death

Tolko Industries in Kelowna was the site of a workplace death Jan. 30, 2017.
May 01, 2019 - 6:00 AM

KELOWNA - It's been more than two years since the boom boat Ivor Lundin was captaining off the shores of Okanagan Lake sank, prompting Tolko Industries to adopt new protocols addressing employee sobriety and invest in better safety equipment.

Changes to the logging company's safety regime were highlighted this week in a WorkSafeB.C. report, detailing the investigation into the Jan. 30, 2017 incident.

That night Lundin, a 57-year-old who was an employee at Tolko for 15 years, was moving bundles of wood and logs into position to be lifted to dry and for processing as he had done for years.

It was a normal January night, according to the report, around -4 C, and the pond was calm.

Nonetheless, some time between 9 p.m. and 9:09 p.m. Lundin's boat went down with him in it, though nobody saw.


At around 9 :15 p.m., two Tolko employees with a view of the booming grounds looked out the window and saw lights projecting up from the water.

They tried to radio Lundin, but didn't get a response. Then they contacted the shift operator who got in another boat and found the boom boat under about four inches under water.

The mill was shut down and a search to find Lundin got underway.

At 2 a.m. he was found in the wheelhouse of the sunken boat wearing a personal floatation device that had not been inflated. 


WorkSafeB.C. said the boat was swamped by water that rapidly filled the engine compartment, causing the boat's swift descent. The boat's engine hatch had not been closed properly, and that allowed large volumes of water into the engine compartment.

"Given the nature of this work, swamping could occur if the front of the boat was driven underwater as a result of a collision with an object, such as a bundle of logs, or from pushing logs," said the report. 

That, however, is not the only place where things went wrong.

Lundin's personal floatation device wasn't inflated, which could have been because the pull cord was improperly routed, meaning no amount of force would result in deployment.

WorkSafeB.C. also said Tolko "lacked the necessary procedures to immediately come to (Lundin's) aid" that night.

WorkSafeB.C. also pointed out that Lundin largely worked alone, and there should have been some oversight.

Of note, WorkSafeBC redacted a large chunk of the report dealing with the "operator's physical condition." 

They later say that prior to the incident, Tolko did not have "a firm policy regarding the assessment of the sobriety of workers at the start of the shift."

"There is a recommendation for management to implement meaningful supervision strategies and progressive discipline in accordance with Tolko's policies, which could have included testing," reads the report.

"Since this incident, they've implemented a system for all workers to check in with a supervisor for assessment at the start of the shift and a company-wide training program to assist supervisors in the detection of substance abuse in the work place."

The company has also replaced personal floatation devices,  implemented a person-overboard strategy, installed a watertight seal on the engine hatch of the boomboat and hired a forensic alcohol and drug expert who specialized is the detection of alcohol and drugs in the workplace to conduct 12 workshops.

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