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Provincial ministry implicated in driver death

PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. -- Failing to co-ordinate safety on a logging road could put the B.C. Ministry of Forests and R...

PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. — Failing to co-ordinate safety on a logging road could put the B.C. Ministry of Forests and Range in hot water with WorkSafe B.C.

The provincial ministry has been named in an investigation into the death of a logging trucker last March, reported the Prince George Citizen.

A 26-page investigation report into the death of Prince George driver (Frank) Joseph Leoroux by WorkSafe B.C., found the failure of the Ministry of Forests and Range to co-ordinate safety activities on the Finlay-Philip road system contributed to the deadly crash.

Through a Freedom of Information Act request The Citizen obtained a copy of the report, which found the primary cause of death of the 52-year-old trucker to be miscommunication and misunderstanding between an empty logging truck and a convoy of loaded trucks.

Traffic on the Finlay-Philip Forest Service Road had increased to deal with the pine beetle epidemic and unless the ministry designates a prime contractor, which it had not, responsibility falls to the ministry as owner of the road, explained the report.

The WorkSafe B.C. investigation found the Ministry of Forests and Range failed to do an assessment to ensure the road system could safely handle an increased volume of traffic. As well the report concluded the ministry failed to ensure an effective traffic control system was in place and enforced.

WorkSafe B.C. is considering sanctions against the Ministry of Forests, which were outlined in a separate incident report, according to The Citizen.

B.C. Forests and Range Minister Rich Coleman told The Citizen he had not seen the investigation report, but the ministry did have a right to appeal the findings and expected his staff would be making that consideration.

The WorkSafe B.C. investigation also made note that substandard brakes on Leroux’s truck were an underlying factor, although they did not directly contribute to the incident. The report also cited a lack of supervision of Leroux by the company that owned his truck.

The investigation report took 13 months to complete and is the first detailed look at a deadly crash. The incident will be further examined in a B.C. Coroner’s inquest scheduled to be heard in Prince George in June.

— with files from the Prince George Citizen

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