04/08/2014 11:34 EDT | Updated 06/08/2014 05:59 EDT

Dangerous dust inspections ramping up at B.C. sawmills

WorkSafeBC is beginning a new round of safety inspections at B.C. sawmills, after the last inspection blitz found dangerous dust levels in nearly half of the mills around the province.

Four workers died and dozens were injured in a pair of sawmill explosions in Burns Lake and Prince George back in 2012. Investigations have pointed to an accumulation of dust in the mills as likely causes of the explosions.

Yet despite the time elapsed and a lot of public attention on the issue, recent inspections found potentially dangerous levels of potentially explosive wood dust still existed in 42 per cent of mills.

B.C. Jobs Minister Shirley Bond says WorkSafeBC has now doubled its inspection team.

"There will be a targeted approach. Obviously those mills that were not in compliance will receive additional inspections with particular attention to those mills that had stop work orders."

Bond says the inspection blitz will also include an education campaign about rights for mill workers, "So that workers fully understand that they have the right without repercussion to report unsafe circumstances in their mills."

Meanwhile, the B.C. NDP continues its call for a public inquiry into the Burns Lake sawmill explosion and the overall issue of mill safety.

In February WorkSafeBC was blasted by B.C. Premier Christy Clark because its inadequate investigation of the Burns Lake explosion prevented prosecutors from proceeding with criminal charges following the deadly explosion.