Health and Safety
Feb. 26, 2018 - The story of Northland Forest Product’s fight against The Beast – the fire that ravaged Fort McMurray in May 2016, destroying close to 2,500 buildings – is almost hard to believe.
Feb. 26, 2018 - How many times you have heard the phrase “safety first” or “everything starts with safety”? I’m pretty sure that we have all heard some variation of these phrases at one point or another. As a safety professional at a sawmill, it can be challenging at times to know which approach is the best for motivating employees and staff to be more safety conscious in the workplace and at home.
Feb. 26, 2018 - Read all the latest information compiled by Canadian Forest Industrieson what's out there in dust control to keep your operation running smoothly and safely.
Jan. 16, 2018 - Like a wisp of smoke, a waft of alcohol, or a tiny pill, it’s difficult to measure the exact size of the problem of substance abuse in the workplace, but a group of sawmill industry experts has placed the issue firmly at the top of their safety agenda.

Last June 2017, a volunteer group of subject matter experts met face-to-face for a sawmill workplace risk assessment at Workplace Safety North (WSN) headquarters in North Bay, Ontario. The group of 15 representatives from management, labour, government, and not-for-profit organizations, was facilitated by Sujoy Dey, Ph.D., Corporate Risk Officer at the Ministry of Labour (MOL).

In advance of the workshop, each industry expert submitted their top health and safety concerns, and during the one-day workshop, all 80 identified risks were reviewed and discussed by the group.

When it came time for the final vote on the top risks, only actual workers and managers in the sawmill industry were allowed to vote. In order to ensure an open and fair voting process, handheld electronic devices recorded votes anonymously. Both labour and management agreed: the top danger sawmill workers face is substance abuse.

“As they identified specific conditions and situations that could result in injury or illness, we asked the group, ‘What keeps you up at night?’” says Dr. Dey, “And both workers and managers agreed: the number one risk in sawmills is substance abuse.” Dey notes the category includes not just alcohol and recreational drugs, but also prescription drugs, such as pain medication.

Top 10 health and safety risks in sawmills

1. Substance Abuse: Under the influence of drugs and alcohol in the workplace
2. Training: Employees taking shortcuts
3. Not properly locking out or guarding equipment
4. Age: Inexperience of new, young workers who don’t see the dangers
5. Psychosocial: Lack of focus, distraction of worker while performing duties 
6. Slips, trips, and falls
7. Occupational disease: Loss of hearing, ringing in the ears
8. Psychosocial: Stress, including job and family pressures
9. Working from heights: Absence of engineered anchor points
10. Caught in or crushed by mobile equipment

Being under the influence of alcohol or drugs – prescription or not – is a longstanding safety concern in the workplace, and it’s a difficult thing to measure (unlike, for example, Workplace Safety and Insurance Board statistics on slips, trips, and falls in the workplace). Even though there are issues regarding social stigma, privacy, and human rights concerns, drug and alcohol use in the workplace is an issue that’s too risky to ignore any longer. 

“An interesting outcome of the workshop was that the number one risk was not on Workplace Safety North’s radar as a priority concern,” says Tom Welton, WSN Industrial Director. “WSN historically uses WSIB [Workplace Safety and Insurance Board] statistics to provide a clear picture of workplace injuries and trends. 

“The risk assessment workshop provided direct feedback from industry experts about their perception of the workplace. By using leading rather than lagging indicators, WSN can be more proactive,” says Welton.

Psychological health and safety in the workplace
Three of the top 10 risks involve psychosocial or mental health issues: substance use, lack of focus, and stress. As more workplaces gain a better understanding about the importance of taking a holistic approach to health and safety and having a supportive workplace culture that encourages both self-care and concern for co-workers, research also supports an increased focus on overall well-being

The results of the workshop were reviewed by the Ontario volunteer industry advisory committee for Forestry, Paper, Printing, and Converting sectors. The committee, in conjunction with WSN, is supportive of the next step: a detailed analysis of the root causes of substance abuse in the workplace, and the creation of an effective prevention plan. 

For more information, contact  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

This article was originally published by Workplace Safety North.
Jan. 2, 2018 - The last few days of 2017 brought along some financial damage for Kenora Forest Products. Fire crews battled a blaze at the sawmill, located in Kenora, Ont., on the evening of Dec. 29 leading into the following morning.

Two kilns were completely destroyed, and damages are estimated at $850,000. There were no reported injuries. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Despite the damage, the mill is expected to resume operations shortly. Read the full story by TBNewsWatch.
Dec. 12, 2017 - Earlier this year, the Wood Pellet Association of Canada Safety Committee (WPACSC) created a new safety working group – the Wood Fibre Storage Working Group (WFSWG) – to facilitate the development of proposed guidelines to assist employers in understanding and assessing the hazards and options for storage and infeed processes along with risk mitigation strategies and assessment.
Nov. 17, 2017 - WorkSafeBC said it is upholding its decision to impose more than $1 million worth of penalties against Babine Forest Products for a major explosion and fire at its Burns Lake sawmill in 2012.

The explosion killed two people and injured more than 20 others.

WorkSafeBC determined the cause of the explosion and fire to be wood dust. Read the full story by the Prince George Citizen.
June 30, 2017 - Dust Safety Week 2017 is wrapping up today after five days of coverage on new developments and processes to help sawmills and pellet plants manage combustible dust.
June 29, 2017 - In the last few years we’ve hosted introductory dust collection courses across Western Canada for dust producing facilities. Regardless of size of the facility or dust particulate produced there are a few key things to look for when evaluating whether or not your system is a fire or explosion waiting to happen.
June 28, 2017 - There are several regulations (NFPA) and health & safety standards (CSST) that govern dust collection in the woodworking industry. 
June 26, 2017 - Earlier this spring 2017, the Wood Pellet Association of Canada Safety Committee (WPACSC) created a new safety working group – the Wood Fibre Storage Working Group (WFSWG) – to facilitate the development of proposed guidelines to assist employers in understanding and assessing the hazards and options for storage and infeed processes along with risk mitigation strategies and assessment.
June 27, 2017 - In 2016, WorkSafeBC continued its focus on combustible dust and undertook formal inspection initiatives to verify compliance with combustible dust requirements and to ensure the presence of effective combustible dust management programs in all B.C. sawmills.
June 26, 2017 – Dust Safety Week 2017 has arrived! Canadian Biomass and Canadian Forest Industries have all the coverage to keep you informed as we highlight best practices, technical information and solutions for keeping your operations safe, every day this week!
June 26, 2017 - The lumber industry is highly competitive. As with all successful businesses, cost control in production is paramount. This explains why effective dust collection systems operation not only provides improved performance, but helps reduce costs associated with operation and maintenance.
June 19, 2017 - Canadian Forest Industries and Canadian Biomass are highlighting dust safety best practices, technical information and solutions, during Dust Safety Week 2017 from June 26 to 30!
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