In the aftermath of an terrible accident in which two workers died at a lumber yard in New Westminster, British Columbia, an examination of workplace safety agency WorkSafeBC records revealed that the employer, United Gateway Logistics Inc. (UGL), has developed a significant history of occupational health and safety violations in the two-and-a-half years prior to the accident, although the agency has apparently never taken any action.
According to WorkSafeBC, the latest incident at UGL, a company specializing in export container lumber reloading, happened on Jan. 23, when two workers were found beneath a pile of lumber that apparently had fallen on them. The emergency call about the accident was received by the New Westminster Police Department just before 1 p.m. that day. Police worked the accident scene until about 7 p.m., then turned the scene over to WorkSafeBC.
What investigators have confirmed so far is that there were no witnesses to the incident and that a forklift driver at the worksite made the call to 9-1-1. However, this was the 18th such inspection within about 32 months because of potential violations. In fact, a previous report, dated Dec. 21, 2015, just a month before this latest incident, noted that there were outstanding orders regarding load-handling attachments that had been installed on mobile equipment. It also cited a lack of “written procedures for providing first-aid services at the worksite” and noted that “The employer has not maintained a record of worker injuries and exposures to contaminants covered by the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation that are reported or treated at this worksite.”
The first inspection report during the period investigators looked at, which was dated April 30, 2013, made note of outstanding orders regarding an unsafe loading dock, an under-qualified forklift operator and a lack of high-visibility clothing in hazardous areas, and the list of infractions from subsequent reports noted that the company failed to conduct regular safety inspections and failure to follow basic OHS regulations regarding forklift operation.
According to the Dec. 21, 2015 report, “WorkSafeBC has determined that there are grounds for imposing an administrative penalty.” However, despite the numerous violations found, UGL has yet to be charged or penalized for any of the safety infractions noted in the report.