It was with a heavy heart that I heard about the latest sawmill exploding in Prince George. I actually began to wonder if this a common end to sawmills, as there have been so many explosions and fires in recent history. It turns out there is a reason this is happening. Apparently, it is the increases milling of pine beetle killed wood. It is drier than other wood and has an oil or residue that makes the dust stick to the saws more than other wood. This was according to a sawmill employee as broadcasted on a CBC call in today.
At least the government is acting. The Labour Minister, Margaret MacDiarmid, has confirmed that she and officials from Worksafe BC and the industry will be meeting to confirm a plan. At a minimum, all the sawmills in the province will be inspected. I am sure this is cold comfort to the family of the dead worker and the 24 people injured.
Sawmills have been a way of life in BC since Europeans arrived here. We have a huge renewable resource here in our province full of forests. In many small towns in BC, the local sawmill is the major employer. One really has to ask why it has taken so long to organize a safety plan for the mills in the province.