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Hell’s History

Why are so many Canadian workers still dying on the job and why aren’t their employers held more accountable? Series author Tom Sandborn, who covered labour for The Tyee, details preventable deaths caused by a 1992 fireball in Nova Scotia’s Westray coal mine and the resulting, lightly enforced, law meant to hold owners accountable. He draws ties to 2012’s lethal sawmill explosions in B.C.’s interior and brings the story up to date. The series is excerpted with permission from a new book (available as a PDF) by Sandborn commissioned by the United Steelworkers: Hell’s History: The USW’s fight to prevent workplaces deaths and injuries from the 1992 Westray Mine disaster through 2016.

In This Series



Why It’s Still Too Easy to Kill an Employee

Labour’s long fight to hold reckless owners responsible for deadly work conditions. First of six parts.

By Tom Sandborn, 28 Nov 2016


Allen Martin holds a photo of his brother Glenn David Martin

The Day the Westray Mine Blew

‘I told him not to go back down’: Horror, heroism recounted by those who were there. Part two of six.

By Tom Sandborn, 29 Nov 2016



‘Kill a Worker, Go to Jail’

The tenacious fight to make, and enforce, a worker safety law with teeth. Latest in a series.

By Tom Sandborn, 30 Nov 2016


Family of workplace death

‘They Ought to Slap the Cuffs on Them’

His son crushed to death on the job, a father demands enforcement of the Westray Act. Latest in series.

By Tom Sandborn, 1 Dec 2016


A fireball triggered by wood dust build-up engulfs Lakeland Mills sawmill

Still No Justice for BC Workers Killed in Twin Mill Blasts

Demands persist for new inquiry into bungled prevention, probe of Babine, Lakeland explosions. Latest in a series.

By Tom Sandborn, 2 Dec 2016



Killed for Following Orders

Last in a series on the fight to jail employers whose workers die preventable deaths on the job.

By Tom Sandborn, 3 Dec 2016