There were three employers at this worksite — A-1 Mushroom Substratum Ltd., H-V Truong Ltd., and Farmer’s Fresh Mushrooms.
The investigation describes in detail what happened on September 5, 2008: Workers from A-1 Mushroom Substratum attempting to clear a blocked pipe in a pump shed were exposed to hazardous gasses. Co-workers from A-1 Substratum Ltd. and the adjacent mushroom growing and distribution businesses, unaware of the conditions in the shed, attempted to rescue them without safety equipment and succumbed to the hazardous environment of the confined space.
Additionally, ambulance and fire department rescue personnel were probably saved from serious death or injury because the responding paramedics recognized a potential confined space hazard and prevented anyone else, including one of the owners of the worksite, from entering the pump shed.
The investigation concluded the following:
• That the workers were exposed to a hazardous atmosphere and were working in a confined space without adequate safety precautions
• That, going back to 2004, the facility was designed, built, and operated with inherent flaws that created the conditions for hazardous gasses to build up and for the blockages in the pipes to develop
• The addition of the pump shed created a confined space that was not identified by the employer.
For more detailed information view the investigation report from the WorkSafeBC website. A3D animation that re-enacts what happened the day of the incident can be viewed online. The animation is also available in Cantonese and Vietnamese.
The purpose of a WorkSafeBC investigation is to determine the cause of an incident, identify lessons learned to prevent a similar injury or loss of life in the future, and to investigate for compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation and Workers Compensation Act. WorkSafeBC considers imposing penalties against employers where significant non-compliance is evident and/or where the employer has had a history of non-compliance with health and safety laws and regulations. Though infrequently, WorkSafeBC refers cases to the Crown when there is evidence of a particularly egregious violation by an employer. Where there is evidence of such misconduct, the Crown may consider it in the public interest to pursue formal charges under the Workers Compensation Act rather than administrative remedies.