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Need for safer practices: Farmworkers Union

BURNABY (NEWS1130) – A Coroner’s Inquest into the death of three mushroom farm workers gets underway today in Burnaby.  Unfortunately, the probe into the tragedy doesn’t come without any criticism.

Thirty-five year-old Ut Tran, 47-year-old Han Pham and 55-year-old Chi Wai (Jimmy) Chan all died after going into a pump shed full of toxic gas.  Two other workers survived, but suffered permanent brain damage.

As a result, the group representing farmworkers points out that not enough is done to keep the employees that help bring food to your table, safe on the job.

Charan Gill with the Canadian Farmworkers Union says he has seen it with previous inquests before; safety measures get recommended but they don’t get put in place right away.

“It’s so pathetic, even the recommendations by the inquest are never been implemented.  It takes years and years for the government to employ, to do in practice, whatever the recommendations are being made.”

As an example, he points to the deadly passenger van crash in Abbotsford years ago that killed several farmworkers.  Many of the proposed safety changes that were made back then still aren’t seen today. 

He expects the same thing to happen with the Langley mushroom farm inquest.  “It’s unfortunate that nobody listens to the concerns of the people until something disastrous happens.”

Gill adds the government isn’t proactive enough and that’s why he’s calling on the province to step up.  “These immigrant workers need some training, orientation, some support and telling them what the rules and regulations are here.”

He says the union pushed the government for increased training for those working in confined spaces years before the incident, something that could have prevented the Langley mushroom farm deaths.