BRITISH COLUMBIA

Logging Truck Rules Need Review, Says Union Chief

10/21/2013 05:41 EDT | Updated 12/21/2013 05:12 EST
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A logging truck transports a load of newly cut logs down Highway 97 in Quesnel, British Columbia, Canada, on Thursday, July 11, 2013. West Fraser Timber Co., the largest lumber producer in North America, had a sustainable rise in price, demand volatility, and profits within the past year. Photographer: Ben Nelms/Bloomberg via Getty Images
The union representing a majority of the province's forestry workers is calling for an industry review of logging trucks after a fatal accident on the Sea-to-Sky Highway on the weekend.

At around 2:30 p.m. PST on Saturday, a logging truck overturned near Whistler, spilling its load and killing a 65-year-old motorcyclist, who was crushed by the logs.

It is the second instance of a logging truck overturning on the Sea-to-Sky Highway this month, and in 2004 two people were killed and four others injured when a logging truck crashed on the Upper Levels Highway in West Vancouver.

Steve Hunt, director of the United Steelworkers Union's Western district, says there are a number of contributing factors that put logging truck drivers, and the public, at risk and need to be reviewed.

First, says Hunt, logging truck drivers are paid on a per-weight basis, and are therefore incentivized to push the limits of their loads.

"There are lots of trucks out there and often the first thing that suffers is the driver, and obviously in this case, perhaps the safety of the public," he told CBC News.

Additionally, logging trucks are regulated by a number of different organizations - WorkSafeBC, the province and RCMP - often leading to confusion and oversight in the industry, he says.

"When you have jurisdictions that touch on one another that are supposed to ensure health and safety, sometimes things get overlooked and other considerations are made."

Some locals in the area have also raised concerns that the truck was travelling on the highway at a very busy time, and have called on the province and the Municipality of Whistler to ban logging trucks during peak hours.

"They often seem to be overloaded," says Katja Weber.

"I think that makes people nervous."

Whistler Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden admits officials have discussed a ban on logging trucks during peak hours in the past, but says more frequent inspections are needed more immediately.

"Last week the police were pulling over various logging trucks and checking them for weight. We are going to check with them and see if we can do more of that in light of what happened," she told CBC News.

The cause of Saturday's crash has not yet been determined.