As I compose my first blog, I am thinking about the reality of being in this business.

  • Manufacturing is a tough business to be in.
  • Our competitors are fierce.
  • Our high profile resource is TREES.
  • Our customers build and remodel homes.
  • And last, but by far not least, our business is dangerous.

That reality has hit home with recent events.

For the second time in our 60-plus year history, we have had to deal with a fatality; not just one, but the deaths of three employees. We were still reeling from the accidental death of a young employee at our Morton sawmill when our Babine sawmill burnt to the ground on January 20th from an as-yet unexplained explosion and fire.

We lost two employees in this tragedy, both men with families. Hospitalization and a painful recovery faced 19 of our employees and we are fortunate that only one employee remains in the hospital.

I am pained by these grievous events that happened under my watch, but I know what I am feeling doesn’t come close to what the families of these three men are feeling and will continue to feel for the foreseeable future.

Our path forward is clear.

We are cooperating in every way possible with WorkSafe B.C. who is conducting the onsite investigation. We are helping our now unemployed workers and the community of Burns Lake in any way that we can while we research all the components of rebuilding the sawmill. We are grateful to the Burns Lake Native Development Corporation, our First Nations partner, and to the community for their support.

Safety comes first at our company. Not productivity at the cost of safety, safety is the priority. I want our employees to go home safe to their families.

Our safety plans for 2012 have been revisited and refreshed to:

  • Have outside resources perform independent safety audits
  • Put “fresh eyes” at each plant to ferret out unidentified safety hazards
  • Follow the safety rules, noncompliance will not be tolerated
  • Keep the focus on safety and watch out for each other

Stay safe out there!