Workers feel ill during reported “incident” at B.C. shipping terminal
No apparent lasting effects on 11 workers
By Jeff Cottrill
Health & Safety
(Canadian OH&S News) — An unspecified incident at Fairview Container Terminal in Prince Rupert, B.C. sent 11 workers to the hospital for precautionary treatment on the morning of Sept. 3 — but all of the parties involved have stressed that the employees are fine.
While few specific details have been released, a press statement from DP World Prince Rupert, the company that runs the shipping terminal, said that employees in a certain area of the container yard had developed symptoms of respiratory and eye irritation. The workers received medical treatment at a local hospital at about 5 a.m. that morning.
“Two [of the employees] were initially kept for observation, and thankfully, all were discharged within hours of their arrival,” DP World said. “We continue to check on their well-being.”
The company added that the worksite had been evacuated and shut down temporarily after the workers had been treated. “Our incident command management team also brought an external industrial hygienist to conduct onsite assessments and air-quality monitoring,” the statement read.
DP World declared the worksite to be safe at 4:30 a.m. on Sept. 4, and normal work operations resumed on the following day.
“Our first priority is the safety and well-being of our employees, the local community and any others who may have been affected,” the company said.
A news release from the Port of Prince Rupert stated that DP World had based its response to the incident on proper emergency procedures.
“There is no inhalation hazard to the community of Prince Rupert, nor [a] hazard to the marine environment, as related to this incident,” the release stated, adding that the Port of Prince Rupert, other port partners and responding agencies were “fully aware of the situation” and supported DP World’s response.
Rob Ashton, president of International Longshore & Warehouse Union Canada, told COHSN that the safety committees with DP World and the union’s Local 505 are investigating the incident. “I believe they’d be looking at it and figuring out ways to prevent anything like this from ever happening again,” he explained, adding that he did not know whether WorkSafeBC is also investigating.
He said that all of the workers affected by the incident were fine as far as he was aware. “If there are any longstanding issues, I don’t know,” said Ashton.
DP World recently completed an expansion project, dubbed “Phase 2 North”, to increase Fairview Container Terminal’s handling capacity from 750,000 to 1.35 million 20-foot equivalent units, or TEU. The terminal upgrade was marked in a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Aug. 30, according to a media release from the company.
The Fairview Container Terminal was upgraded from a general cargo facility to a container-handling terminal in 2007, according to information from DP World’s website. The terminal is currently North America’s closest major port to Asia.
A leader in global trade specializing in container handling, DP World employs more than 36,500 people in 103 countries.