24 April 2012

Sawmill War Zone

A second sawmill in my province's once timber rich interior has exploded killing one of my union brothers and critically burning several others. As in this past winter's previous sawmill explosion, workers who escaped serious injury and witnessed the aftermath of the explosion described the scene as "a motherfucking war zone."

Our work is dirty, dull and dangerous. The sort of work men have calculatingly performed since the beginning of our sputtering industrial age. You go in knowing you will shower after, not before, work; you go in knowing you will be bored, perhaps to the edge of insanity and beyond; you go in knowing, chances are, you will get hurt before your working days are done.

You do not go in expecting your fucking sawmill will explode like a police station in motherfucking Baghdad.

Saturday April 28th is labour's Day of Mourning those of us, those many of us, who did not go home to their family and their dog at the end of their shift. We Steelworkers have much to mourn this year just like every other.

Our places of work are a motherfucking war zone.


Chris said...

What a grim reminder of whose backs this resource province was, and still is, built on.
And at what cost.
My sympathies to the families, the workers and the community.
Solidarity, folks.

Kim said...




halim said...
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double nickel said...

Just like the mining industry. But yanno, fuck the unions, because they just want more money and better working conditions for their members. Why won't anyone think of the shareholders??
/sarcasm off

Anonymous said...

The companies are to cheap to put in proper dust extraction systems even though all they're cutting in that part of the province is bone dry pine.
Profits first.

Mr. Beer N. Hockey said...

Unfortunately, in industry generally, it is fatalities that drive its safety culture and that also drive safety regulation. Sometimes, however, it takes more than one incident to see changes made in this regard. I assumed all sawmills in BC would be checked over with a fine tooth comb after the explosion in Burns Lake. No such thing happened to my knowledge.

It took two sawmill explosions to wake people up. One too many. Must be a lot of uneasy people working in the mills today.

Anonymous said...

In the days before government imposed self regulation the industrial health branch (I think it was part of WCB but can't remember that far back) would come around to the mill I worked at and check for dust in ppm, when the dust levels got too high the company was made to upgrade their dust systems,and that was strictly green wood. Even running kiln dried wood in the planer the moisture content was still around 8%, not this bone dry dust they have now.

kootcoot said...

If I worked in a mill, and years ago I did for awhile, but then went logging instead, I might consider it a good time to take some time off until they figure out what the hell is going on. We know though that since Reagan, Campbell and the rest of the neo-con bastards that worker safety is far down the list of priorities of industry.

I find it disgusting that those who died in the Gulf disaster leading to the month's long spill are almost forgotten. Coal miners die almost daily in the US and almost hourly in China.

The safety situation for the new contract falling regime is shameful! When I worked on the North Coast and Haida Gwaii years ago, fallers often survived major accidents, due to safety protocols but today, not so much. More loggers die every year than two or three decades ago, when many more loggers were employed.

Jon said...

Condolences and solidarity. When I worked in a steel mill I learned the folklore of death in the mills. I was told dozens of stories that turned out to be folklore. It also turned out that there were hundreds of those stories. Dying at work was just part of the job and a culture had developed around that fact. Fucked up if you think about it.

Mr. Beer N. Hockey said...

Jon - I think somebody once called it a reverse lottery. I am not sure of the exact numbers but the odds of dying in a sawmill explosion in these here parts has gotten to be god damn unacceptable.

B said...

our BC govt stripped wcb of any power to protect workers in any industry , they even refuse to help volunteer emergency services people if they can find ways , fuckin BCLibs should be burned in a mill fire .

Mr. Beer N. Hockey said...

Metaphorically speaking the BC Libs are being burned in a big stinking mill fire.

I do not know about other mills but we pretty much saw the last of WCB in our mill the day Campbell got elected over a decade ago. That motherfucker's deathly legacy just keeps on growing.

befastpast said...

About a month before I left for good WorkSafeBC (the old WCB) came up with a safety vest mandate that was agreed upon by company and union. Then they gave us the cheapest, flimsiest pieces of crap they could skimp on. And I wore it, goddam I wore it. The last month on the job I wore it from bus door to washroom and back. And wondered how the fuck I had been so fucking dangerous to myself and others for the previous 30 years.

Canadianbud said...

Many prayers out to the families and workers who were involved. My condolences to those families that had fathers, brothers, family, taken from them far too early.
There are risks in this job, but what happened here was avoidable, noone responsible wanted to pony-up for proper maintenance and inspection safety regulations.

Many FUCK YOU'S to the bought off safety inspectors, our bought and paid for LIEberal Party (by the Koch brothers and Rockefeller's and the LIEberals and CONs new Chinese Commie buddies), The Harperites, and last but definitely not least, our own unelected, unofficial bottle and cap farts spokesperson and wanna-be stand-in premier, Christy Clark.

A big FUCK YOU for selling off and destroying once Beautiful BC, as well as selling out Democracy from under us in the name of greed.

There will be justice and accountability, count on it!