Babine Forest Products Ltd. is contesting a $1 million penalty imposed by WorkSafeBC for the January 2012 sawmill fire and explosion that killed two employees and injured 20 others.

Babine Forest Products said it is appealing the fine because WorkSafeBC’s investigation of the blast was “unprofessional” and “inaccurate and flawed” in failing to follow established forensic protocols, the Globe and Mail reported. The newspaper noted that the British Columbia Criminal Justice Branch previously decided not to pursue criminal or regulatory charges against Babine Forest Products, partly because WorkSafeBC’s handling of the probe made some evidence inadmissible.

WorkSafeBC, akin to the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration, ruled that Babine Forest Products was found to be violation of the Workers Compensation Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation. On April 3, the provincial safety agency issued the company an Order for Administration and Claims Cost Levy totaling $1,011,639.62. “The dollar value of a penalty or levy does not and cannot reflect the loss of lives and the pain and suffering of workers and families,” WorkSafeBC said in announcing the penalties.

WorkSafeBC said the Babine Forest Products sawmill tragedy unfolded at 8:07 p.m. Jan. 20, 2012 when a large fireball burst through the roof of the northeast side of the mill; the explosion traveled east to west through the mill’s operating and basement levels and fire spread throughout the premises. Two workers died and many more were injured.

Based on its investigation, WorkSafeBC determined that the a buildup of combustible sawdust caused the explosion. The safety agency said that the explosion could have been prevented if Babine Forest Products management had addressed the inadequacies of its dust collection system at the same time it increased production and thus, wood dust.

From Woodworking Network: