Pulp mill worker questions WorkSafeBC response

An employee at a pulp mill in Mackenzie is upset no WorkSafeBC officer showed up at the scene on the day a fellow worker's arm was pulled into a running machine.

Rick Berry said he showed up for the day shift at Paper Excellence on May 19 to learn the employee he was to relieve suffered the accident about four hours before.

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The worker's arm got caught in a roller and he was pulled in up to his shoulder.

While the man suffered a fractured wrist and some burns, Berry said it could have been much worse if co-workers had not been as quick as they were in shutting the machinery down.

"There is a good possibility it would have been a fatality," said Berry.

Berry said it took 20 minutes to extract him. And while management handed out a phone number for workers who wanted psychological counselling as a result of the accident, Berry said production soon resumed without any WorkSafeBC official showing up.

"We all expected WorkSafe to be there, because it could've been a fatality, it was a very traumatic accident and we all expected them there Tuesday morning," Berry said.

"As of Wednesday afternoon, they hadn't shown up yet, which means there's no point in them showing up at all."

WorkSafeBC spokesman Scott McCloy said Wednesday that an official did show up on Monday.

"The lead officer is very experienced in sawmilling but has less familiarity in pulp mills. As a result, he visited several pulp mills in the PG area with another officer to better familiarize himself with the specific work process being used in those mills before going to the mill in Mackenzie," McCloy said.

"He was then accompanied by the same officer to the Paper Excellence mill on Monday.

"Based on that extensive work beforehand, and on the Monday morning inspection, the officer will be issuing orders on the mill, which will be delivered in the near future."

The officer "took this situation extremely seriously and was diligently discharging his responsibility to hold the workplace accountable for workers' health and safety in that mill," McCloy said.

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