Health and Safety
March 31, 2017 - Wrecks, we all have them. We hate them and we wish they would never happen but sadly, they always have and always will. We can’t stop them completely but we can work to minimize our catastrophic failures and maximize the safety of the workers who have to get in and clear out the tangled, unpredictable razor-tipped steel that is all that remains of what were once productive saws.
March 24, 2017 - A fire destroyed the Elite Forest Products sawmill in Malakwa, British Columbia on March 9.

The sawmill, located in the Shuswap Lake area, was completely destroyed along with half of the buildings on site, Global News reported.

The planer mill was not damaged.

The sawmill was closed for the winter, but was set to resume operations one day later on March 10. | READ MORE.
Feb. 1, 2017 - J.D. Irving, Limited has been charged with two counts of violating the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

William Gregg, 52, died in February 2016 after suffering a head injury while on the job at J.D. Irving’s Sussex, N.B., sawmill. 

The charges were laid on Tuesday and cite that the company failed to provide adequate supervision on site and failed to prevent the use of a machine that was to be cleaned.

The incident was investigated by WorkSafeNB.

The charges come at a time when workplace safety is at the forefront in other parts of the country as well.

Related article: J.D. Irving sawmill death under investigation 

Feb. 1, 2017 - Grim news of workplace deaths are serving as yet another reminder to practice safety on the job.

Ivor Lundin, 57, was a Tolko employee. He went out on the water on Okanagan Lake in a boom boat on Monday night while working near the company’s Kelowna, B.C. plant.

According to reports, Tolko lost contact with Lundin at 9:21 p.m. and what started off as a rescue mission became a recovery one. RCMP officers recovered Lundin’s body on Tuesday.

The investigation is ongoing. No details have been released on what may have caused the incident.

Another man also died while working at a log yard operation in Lumby, B.C., on Friday.

No details have been released on the name of the victim or the company.

Both the RCMP and WorkSafeBC are investigating.

The B.C. Federation of Labour (BCFED) released a statement calling for the B.C. government to put increased workplace safety measures into place.

“All workers must enjoy the basic right to be safe on the job and to come home safely to their families at the end of their shift. But these two deaths — along with a third involving a Victoria construction workers two weeks ago — are a sign that more needs to be done to protect workers,” says Irene Lanzinger, president of the BCFED.

“Our view is that government and employers aren’t doing enough to keep workers safe on the job,” Lanzinger says. “Health and safety protections are weak and not always rigorously enforced. Worker safety is being compromised. Injured workers aren’t fairly compensated, and employers whose negligence kills or seriously injures workers are let off with a slap on the wrist.”

The BCFED says it will continue to push government to improve safety on the job.

Oct. 24, 2016 - Martin Engineering has announced the publication of the world’s first aggregation of global best practices dedicated to reducing conveyor risk and injuries. Modeled after the company’s respected Foundations reference volume, now in its fourth edition, Foundations for Conveyor Safety from Martin Engineering provides an unprecedented collection of information, assembled specifically to help conveyor system operators achieve safe production. To assess the true value of safety, the book includes ground-breaking methodology for calculating the payback from safety investments, sometimes referred to as ROS for “Return On Safety.”

Aug. 22, 2016 - Councillors in Coldstream, B.C., have flagged the safety of dust mitigation technology that Tolko recently installed at its planer mill as a possible concern, among others, in a letter to the province's Ministry of the Environment. 

 April 26, 2016 - Nine southern pine sawmills – all members of the Southern Forest Products Association (SFPA) – are recent recipients of the 2015 Sawmill Safety Award.

SFPA lumber manufacturer members are considered for the award based on information submitted regarding occupational injuries and illnesses. Safety performance is judged by how each mill’s safety record stacks up against facilities with comparable lumber output throughout the year. Division I includes sawmills that produce 50 million board feet or less; Division II covers facilities that produce 51 to 150 million board feet; and Division III includes mills that produce more than 150 million board feet annually. The nine sawmills being honoured for outstanding safety records during 2015:

Division I           
Ray White Lumber Company – Sparkman, Arkansas
Weyerhaeuser Company – Zwolle, Louisiana

Division II           
Deltic Timber Corporation – Ola, Arkansas                      
Interfor US Inc. – Eatonton, Georgia and Swainsboro, Georgia
Weyerhaeuser Company – Millport, Alabama

Division III          
Weyerhaeuser Company – Idabel, Oklahoma; McComb, Mississippi; Bruce, Mississippi

“All nine mills receiving the award for 2015 recorded perfect safety records, with zero lost-time accidents or injuries,” said SFPA executive director Tami Kessler. “We commend these companies that excel at making safety in the workplace a top priority.”

April 15, 2016 – WorkSafeBC has issued Carrier Lumber of Prince George a $30,000 fine as a result of high volumes of dust.
March 3, 2016 – The death of a 50-year-old male at the J.D. Irving Sussex sawmill on Monday is currently under investigation by WorkSafeNB.

February 24, 2016 - We are often asked, “What sized wood dust collector poses an explosion hazard?” The short answer is any dust collector exceeding eight cubic feet in volume is considered an explosion risk regardless of how often it is used.

For an explosion to occur, the dust collector must have sufficient dust to reach the Minimum Explosion Concentration (MEC). This can be achieved after hours of use, as such, if you have used your dust collector, an explosion risk is possible as the finer combustible dust is caked on the filter bags to aid in the filtration efficiency and can be easily suspended during a cleaning cycle or other disturbances.

At this size and usage, the majorities of small wood shop dust collectors do pose an explosion risk and as such, require explosion protection. The most common explosion protection is breakaway panels or doors and when installed and maintained properly, offer reliable protection at low cost.

Problems occur when no consideration is given to the path of the explosion which is vented through the panels. For a typical small shop dust collector, less than 5,000 CFM, the fireball’s path can exceed 30 feet. If any people, debris or other combustible materials are in the fireball’s path, additional explosions and injury can occur. As shown in Figure 1.

The dust collector explosion panels are directed inside a work area and face the entry door. Obviously serious injury and damage can occur if an explosion were to happen. Another common problem is the installation of explosion panels and doors, which require more pressure to open than the pressure to open the access doors. In these cases, the explosion vents out the access doors, which are not necessarily located for a safe discharge of the fireball.

In small wood shops it is common practice to locate the dust collector inside the building and exhaust the “clean” air into the building to save on make-up air energy cost. Both these practices are extremely dangerous.

For dust collectors located inside, an explosion would be vented inside the building with sufficient fireball pressure to suspend any dust layer into a secondary explosion with devastating consequences. Any dust collector located inside must have the explosion panels vented with a re-enforced welded vent duct to the exterior and the vent duct cannot exceed 10 feet. If a vent duct greater than 10 feet is required, a strength analysis must be completed to ensure that the dust collector enclosure is strong enough to withstand the additional backpressure caused by the vented explosion travelling through the vent duct. See Figure 2.

For dust collectors exhausting the clean air back into the building, the return air ducting must be equipped with a sensor and abort gate, which will close and direct the explosion fireball to the exterior in the event that an explosion occurs in the dust collector. The reaction time from the sensor to the abort gate is around 0.3 seconds, as such, you will need to verify the spacing between the sensors and abort gate at the correct distance based on the air velocity in the return air ducting. It is also imperative to check the velocity on a regular scheduled maintenance to ensure that the velocity is within the range for correct operation of the abort gate. If the velocity increases, the explosion will be past the abort gate before it closes and discharge inside the building with potentially devastating consequences. If the velocity has reduced, the abort gate will close early and still provide protection.

As the consequences of not having correct explosion protection on the dust collector and return air system can be devastating, the recommended arrangement for wood dust collectors is to be located outside, and the clean air should not be returned to the building. The first impulse is to disregard these cautions as many operations consider it cost-effective to return the air and locate the dust collector inside. This is not always the case. In order to properly justify the risk versus cost savings you need to look at the building code requirements on clean efficiency for returning air from a dust collector and the actual payback based on capital cost and on-going maintenance cost versus hours of operation during colder months. All required conditions to be met are explained in NFPA 654, “Standard on explosion and fire protection in wood working,” and NFPA 654, “Standard for the prevention of fire and dust explosions from the manufacturing, processing, and handling of combustible particulate solids.”

NFPA 654 section is very specific and requires that conditions must be met, maintained and proven for the recycle of air to be permitted. The requirements that must be met, from NFPA 654 are all of the following:

  1. Combustible or flammable gases or vapours are not present either in the intake or the recycled air concentrations above applicable industrial hygiene exposure limits or 1 per cent of the LFL, whichever is lower;
  2. Combustible particulate solids are not present in the recycled air in concentrations above applicable industrial hygiene exposure limits or one per cent of the MEC, whichever is lower;
  3. The oxygen concentration of the recycled air stream is between 19.5 per cent and 23.5 per cent by volume;
  4. Provisions are incorporated to prevent transmission of flame and pressure effects from a deflagration in an air material-separator back to the facility unless a process hazard analysis indicates that those effects do not pose a threat to the facility or the occupants;
  5. Provisions are incorporated to prevent transmission of smoke and flame from a fire in an air-material separator back to the facility unless a process hazard analysis indicated that those effects do not pose a threat to the facility or the occupants;
  6. The system includes a method for detecting air-material separator malfunctions that would reduce collection efficiency and allow increases in the amount of combustible particulate solids returned to the building;
  7. The building or room to which the recycled air is returned meets the fugitive dust control and housekeeping requirements of this standard (Chapter 8);
  8. Recycled-air ducts are inspected and cleaned at least annually.

It is important to check on the cost and maintenance of the required sensors required for safe return air before considering the true install and operating cost versus energy cost savings. In most cases smaller wood shops operating five days per week can’t justify the savings and by not returning the “clean” air you will make your facility significantly safer from an explosion risk and returning potentially cancer-causing finer wood particles back into the facility.



RELATED: Dust collector hazards; CFI dust mitigation webinar series; WPAC 2015

November 13, 2015 - Canadian Biomass and Canadian Forest Industries’ recent dust mitigation webinar series is now available for viewing for a limited time!

Learn the latest tips and methods for managing dust in sawmill and pellet operations from John Bachynski, who has over 30 years experience managing dust explosion environments, through the following webinars:

Dust Mitigation I - Managing the risk
Is your operation at risk? Are you confident in your risk assessment skill set? How do you know if you are doing enough, or perhaps even too much, to manage your specific risk? Join John Bachynski as he walks you through the array of risks associated with wood or pellet processing in his unique hands-on manner.

Dust Explosion Mitigation II - Managing the dust
A whopping 51 per cent of explosions happen in the dust collection system, and yet there are a range of myths and technical fallacies still making the rounds in Canada's wood products and pellet sector. Join John Bachynski as he walks us through the most cost-effective ways to manage dust for a variety of operations. 

Are you protected, are your systems safe, and have you covered the seven critical explosion areas in your mill? 

Dust Explosion Mitigation III - Managing the liability
Do you fully understand your inspection and compliance requirements and liabilities? Recent events have shown what can go wrong, so don't be caught on the wrong side of this crucial issue. From dust collection to system maintenance, John Bachynski walks you through the complexities from an operational perspective.
September 25, 2015 - According to a recent CBC report, a man in his 50s was killed in a workplace accident at the Twin Rivers sawmill in Plaster Rock, N.B.

The man’s death and an investigation into his death were both confirmed by the RCMP and WorkSafeNB.

WorkSafeNB stated that the man, a heavy equipment operator, was crushed in a workplace accident on Wednesday, Sept. 23.

Read more about the accident here.

September 25, 2015 - At their meeting on Sept. 8, 2015, WorkSafeBC’s governing body, the Board of Directors, approved the release of a discussion paper with options and draft policies to stakeholders for comment.

The Partners Program is a voluntary incentive program intended to motivate B.C. employers to take a proactive role in occupational health and safety. Employers registered in the Partners Program who successfully meet the program requirements achieve a Certificate of Recognition (COR) and become eligible to receive a COR rebate.

This policy review addresses two key issues:
•There is no policy established for the Partners Program to help guide decision-makers.
•Practice direction on whether an employer is considered to be in good standing and entitled to receive a COR rebate, is not well defined.

The discussion paper, draft policies, and information on how to provide feedback can be accessed through the link below.

The consultation period for this item will end on November 27, 2015. The Board of Directors will consider stakeholder feedback before making a decision on the proposed policy.

Review or Comment

August 5, 2015 - Regulatory amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation relating to WHMIS 2015 came into effect on August 4, 2015.

On Feb. 24, 2015, WorkSafeBC’s Board of Directors approved amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation.

These regulatory amendments to the OHSR came into force on the date the consequential amendments to sections 5 and 6 of the Workers Compensation Amendment Act, 2015, Bill 9, came into force. This occurred on August 4, 2015. These changes harmonize with the Government of Canada‚s implementation of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). The GHS does not replace WHMIS. The existing WHMIS requirements will align with the GHS elements and are now called WHMIS 2015.

The strikethrough version of the amendments with explanatory notes can be accessed online.

July 29, 2015 - RZ Industries recently introduced its newly designed M2-Mesh Air Filtration Mask with HEPA Filtration System.

This mask features an abrasion-resistant mesh exterior designed for easier airflow; elastic side straps for a more precise fit to multiple different head shapes and sizes; dual direction exhalation valves that expel breath away from glasses and goggles; and comes with a HEPA filter designed to allow for 124 per cent more breathability than a standard paper mask. The mask also accepts the RZ Industries’ current active carbon filter and is more lightweight than the company’s neoprene mask.

For more information, visit
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