Jury deems mill death accidental

Seven recommendations made by seven-person jury to various organizations at end of four-day coroner's inquest

Seven recommendations to the company, provincial forest safety council, B.C. Ambulance Service and WorkSafe B.C. have been made by a seven-person jury at the end of a coroner’s inquest into the workplace death of a Lumby man.

The six-man, one-woman jury classified Bradley Michael Thomas Haslam’s death at Tolko’s Lavington mill on June 15, 2013 as accidental, with the 18-year-old’s death caused by blunt trauma.

Haslam was found unresponsive by co-workers in an area near the mill’s No. 3 chipper. Resuscitation efforts by mill, ambulance and Vernon Jubilee Hospital personnnel could not revive the Charles Bloom Secondary School grad, who began work at the mill in March 2013.

The four-day inquest heard that no one at the mill witnessed Haslam’s accident. He was a member of the mill’s clean-up crew, which generally hired younger workers who were given a training orientation booklet and a couple of safety videos to watch.

Safety talks and tours, the inquest heard, are a regular component at the mill.

The jury’s foreperson read the seven recommendations in Vernon Supreme Court in front of presiding coroner T.E. Chico Newell, legal counsel for the coroner, WorkSafe B.C., Tolko, United Steelworkers union and Haslam’s family members.

Four recommendations were made to WorkSafe B.C., the provincial organizations dedicated to promoting workplace health and safety for the workers and employers of this province.

“To develop an educational tool about the risks associated with worker fatigue,” read the foreperson. “To include worker fatigue as a component of a CORE audit; review and research with industry new training styles/curriculum for young/new workers; and that workplace inspections incorporate all shifts including day, afternoon, graveyard and weekend shifts.”

“I have communicated the recommendations to the board, and the board will have to review them and integrate them into its business processes, but I can’t speak for what that exact outcome will be,” said WorkSafe B.C. counsel Gerald Massing.

“The board does take these things very seriously and is always interested in receiving input into the whole health and safety mandate. There’s always additional health and safety approaches to examine. We are engaged in that process, we will continue to be engaged in that process and we’re happy to receive these things as part of that process.”

The jury recommended Tolko produce an educational tool to share across all company operations and industry that describes the lessons learned, and depicts the safety standards accomplished, since Haslam’s death.

“We will address and be implementing the jury’s recommendation,” said Don Hanson, Tolko spokesperson.

To the B.C. Forest Safety Council manufacturing advisory group, the jury recommended utilizing Tolko’s Lavington planer mill’s safety measures approach as a landmark.

And it was recommended to the B.C. Ambulance Service that it ensure counselling be made available in a timely fashion to ambulance attendants following calls of traumatic arrest and similar critical incidents.

A total of 21 witnesses testified during the four-day inquest, with Newell giving his instructions to the jury Thursday night.

The jury deliberated for an hour before resuming Friday morning.

The foreperson asked Newell if he could speak to the family.

“We can’t even begin to share your grief,” he said. “Please accept our sincere condolences.”

Haslam’s family declined to speak to the media after the inquest.