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October 28, 2017 5:21 am

Inquest Queries Managers on Clean Up and Safety

Friday, March 13, 2015 @ 3:55 AM

Prince George, B.C. – The Coroner’s inquest into the deaths of Glenn Roche and Alan Little has shifted its focus from the events of the night of the explosion and follow-up  investigation,  to  the managers who  had input on the day to day safety practices and procedures.The  WorkSafeBC investigation into the  explosion  concluded  it had been sparked  when  the shaft of a jammed cooling fan on a gear reducer,  overheated as it  continued rotating, causing friction .  The  gear reducer was in an area  where there was a significant amount of  wood dust.

The  Fire  Prevention Officer’s  inspections over  an 18 month period, repeatedly cited Lakeland for  failing to have a Fire Safety Plan,  and  called upon the mill to develop policies and procedures for dust  clean  up and removal.

Maintenance Superintendent Garth Turner testified Fire Prevention Officer Steve Feeney wasn’t always that helpful.  He  said that while fire inspection reports  noted the same deficiencies over and over,   that didn’t mean things hadn’t been done to correct the  deficiencies in the first place.  “For example he (Feeney) said we needed to cover the portable fire extinguishers, so we went out and bought 50 bags and covered all  the  fire extinguishers.  Then, he comes back and  he sees one  that isn’t covered and  we got  written up again.”  Turner said the  same kind of  scenario  happened with the  deficiency of signage for fire hydrants.  He says the mill tried to correct the deficiency by  placing 4’x4′ signs noting  the hydrant locations,  but when the re-inspection happened, they were cited again  on that issue because the signs weren’t high enough.

One of the  items that appeared on  each  fire inspection report was the lack of a Fire Safety Plan. Turner   said he was advised  by the Fire Prevention Officer that developing such a plan would take a couple of years.  Although  the Fire Prevention Officer pointed Turner in the direction of  the Fire Code’s requirements  for such a plan,  Turner says he  didn’t have access to a Fire Code to  find out the  details, and when he  requested  a  copy of that section of the Code, was told  that could not be done because of  copyright issues. (The new mill has submitted a Fire Safety Plan, but  it has yet to be approved  by Prince George Fire Safety)

A long time  worker in the forest industry, Turner said he was aware that wood dust  was a fire  hazard, but  did not know  that given the right conditions, it could also be  explosive.

Turner said that while building a culture of safety  at the mill  has “always been our intent” and there was a Safety Committee,  it was difficult to get members to attend Safety Committee meetings. On at least one  occasion a meeting had  to be cancelled because of a lack of  participants.

A recurring theme at this inquest  is  the question,  who is responsible for clean up?  Photo after photo depicts a worksite where  everything was covered in  dust, including the sprinkler system overhead.  Turner testified  he  believed everyone in the mill  had a responsibility to  keep their work area clean, but  Lakeland Counsel posed the  question, “If it’s everybody’s responsibility, is there not a  possibility  the responsibility becomes diluted and it becomes  no one’s job?”

When  asked if  having a clean up policy  would  be  helpful to streamline the responsibility,   Turner replied with a simple “Yes.”

The Inquest continues.





stated above, it was difficult to get members to attend Safety Committee meetings. On at least one occasion a meeting had to be cancelled because of a lack of participants.
Difficult to get Members to attend, what in hell is this some type of a social club, at my place of employment we were referred to as employees. Further more all had to attend logged, every thing was duly noted and written out then submitted to the next level than to management.Something very wrong with the picture that is being drawn out at this inquest over have affairs at this mill were handled.

Maybe that gear reducer was out of commission for days. If that was the problem area you would think that someone would have noticed smoke or heard something.

oldman1 that’s true, it sure as hell didn’t wear out in just a few minutes those sort of things take a while to arrive at that point.

Furtree and oldman1:

According to testimony from Paul Orr of WorkSafeBC, it would have only taken a couple of minutes for the rotating shaft to have created enough friction to hit 577 degrees (melting point of the fan core). That was reported in one of our stories from this inquest.

He also testified there was so much noise in that area from the chipper that it is likely any sound from the gear reducer cooling fan would have been drowned out.

Elaine Macdonald

Ok hears another thought. The explosion that took place maybe blasted the fan housing out of place causing the fan to be jammed and thats when the overheat took place. The overheated shaft may have taken place after the explosion.

oops- here’s

Elaine, Yes I recall reading that, I’ve been in the presence of bearings burning out, what I’m are alluding to is that these things do not take place in a matter of minutes, their final minutes maybe yes, but the lead up time to this point can sometimes days or weeks. What was stated by Orr was a calulated guess i feel , unless a test of those components were replcated in a control enviorment how else can it be proved , He stated the fan was aluminum and had to hit 577 degrees (melting point of the fan core) there is a vast differance in the melting and burning of aluminum, and further to that, what type of aluminum as there many alloys in aluminum and all with different melting points and strengths, Pure aluminum is very weak and melts at about 1200 deg F , most aluminum as in this case would have been an alloy. Aluminum alloys have a different melting point, does he know what was the alloy of the fan core , and remember he said melt not burn.

Question- Did they keep the parts as evidence. Was the shaft keyed or did it only have a set screw holding the fan on. If it only had a set screw it may have been loose for a long time and slipping on shaft making it look like it was melted. If the fan set screw was loose the fan would eventually slip off the end of the shaft. Do they have a picture of these items?

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