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    :: Friday, March 16, 2007 ::

    Weyerhaeuser faces highest fine ever for man's death - By Gordon Hamilton, Vancouver Sun
    WorkSafeBC vice-president Roberta Ellis said the investigating officer saw a high level of knowledge within Weyerhaeuser management of the hazards Hewer faced but they did nothing about it.

    "This penalty reflects the seriousness of the violations cited by our investigator," she said, noting it is above the amount that would be levied under a WorksafeBC formula. "The actual dollar amount is the highest penalty we have ever levied."

    She said Hewer's death met three standards to justify the high penalty to Weyerhaeuser: It involved a fatality, it arose out of a high-risk violation and the violations were committed wilfully or with reckless disregard.

    The only other penalty approaching the Weyerhaeuser fine was $270,000 levied against Teck Cominco after a 2001 incident in which dozens of workers at its Trail smelter were exposed to the toxic chemical thallium.

    Hewer died Nov. 17, 2004 when he entered the bottom of a hopper that feeds waste wood into a large grinding machine called a hog. The hog converts wood waste to chips. The debris wedged above him came loose while he was working on it and engulfed him.

    The machine was known to be dangerous but sawmill senior management resisted work orders from line managers to make it safer. The reason: It would cost too much money, according to a WorkSafeBC B.C. incident investigation report. The work was done after Hewer died. It cost $30,000.
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