Dangerous workplace conditions exposed a worker to “serious injury or death” at a former pulp and paper mill on Vancouver Island last month, according to a WorkSafeBC report obtained by Black Press.
On Jan. 19, the floor of a building collapsed at the former mill in Campbell River. A worker who was trapped by debris walked away unharmed. But the incident raised questions about safety at the site, resulting in a stop work order that’s still in effect.
The Jan. 24 report states that ABC Recycling “failed to employ the services of a professional engineer to prescribe structural support for infrastructures for demolition.”
A building that was in the process of being demolished “was compromised structurally and as a result collapsed with a worker inside, exposing the worker to serious injury or death,” according to a Jan. 22 stop-work order cited in the report.
Provincial workplace safety regulations state that any structure that could be compromised by demolition “must be supported to the extent and in a manner prescribed by a professional engineer.”
The report says the Workers’ Compensation Board “has reasonable grounds to believe there is a high risk of serious injury, serious illness or death to a worker at this workplace.”
Work can’t resume until demolition procedures have been “established and approved by a professional engineer” and reviewed by occupational safety officer Rod Saunders, who carried out the inspection.
The report says that by Jan. 24, the employer had “engaged the services of a professional engineer” and was “working towards compliance.”
A WorkSafeBC spokesperson confirmed that the work stoppage was still in effect by Friday afternoon, almost two weeks after the building collapse that triggered the inspection.
Dave Miller, a company official named as employer representative in the report, didn’t respond to an interview request on Friday.
Steve Holan, the environmental, health and safety manager at ABC Recycling’s headquarters in Burnaby, said the company is “working towards compliance.”
Asked why the company had been operating without the oversight of a professional engineer, he declined to comment, referring further questions to Miller.
ABC Recycling describes itself on its website as “Western Canada’s largest scrap metal recycling company,” with nine locations in B.C. and Alberta, including one in Campbell River.
WorkSafeBC released the inspection report in response to an inquiry by Black Press.
On Jan. 19, firefighters were dispatched to the old mill following the report of a collapsed building with a person trapped inside, according to Thomas Doherty, chief of the Campbell River Fire Department.
The worker was pinned under debris but was able to self-extricate and no injuries were reported, Doherty said. A WorkSafeBC spokesperson confirmed that the incident caused no injuries.
An interior floor collapsed inside a multi-storey building, but the structure itself was still standing, according to Doherty.
He said the collapse also resulted in the rupture of a 400-pound oxygen tank and a 100-pound propane cylinder, but the gases dissipated without incident.
The site of the former Catalyst mill, which closed permanently in 2010, is owned by Rockyview Resources. The Calgary-based company bought the property in May 2016 following the bankruptcy of the site’s previous owner, Quicksilver Resources Canada.
Rockyview is an oil and gas exploration firm that aims to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility at the site, a project dubbed Discovery LNG.