The operators of a mushroom farm near Vancouver where three workers were killed and two were brain injured in September 2008 when they were overcome by toxic fumes were charged Monday with a series of offences under British Columbia's labour laws.
Crown counsel announced a total of 27 charges under the Workers Compensation Act and Occupational Health and Safety Regulations against A-1 Mushroom Substratum Ltd., H.V. Truong Ltd. and four people who are either officers or directors of those companies. Those four individuals are Ha Qua Troung, Vy Tri Trong, Van Thi Truong and Thinh Huu Doan.
Those charges include failing to ensure the health and safety of workers, failing to fix hazardous conditions, failing to ensure workers are aware of the safety hazards they face, inadequate training, and failing to create an adequate safety plan.
On Sept. 5, 2008, a group of workers at a mushroom farm and composting plant in Langley were overcome by toxic fumes in a shed, setting off what WorkSafe BC has said was one of the most complex investigations the agency has ever conducted.
Investigators have said a pipe carrying a compost mixture broke, releasing the gas.
Fellow workers rushed to the aid of two men who initially succumbed to the fumes in the shed. One of those would-be rescuers also died, and two others were taken to hospital.
WorkSafe BC handed over its report to Crown counsel this past spring.
The B.C. Federation of Labour and some of the victim's family members have called for changes to the province's agriculture industry, where many workers are migrants from countries such as Mexico or Vietnam who have limited English skills.
The federation has said the work site offered a pamphlet on working in confined spaces, Sinclair said, but it was available only in English.
They've called for changes including language training, a more rigorous inspection and enforcement system, improved training and revisions to employment rules to ensure farmworkers are covered by the same standards and have the same rights as everyone else.