A collaborative industry forum can secure best safety outcomes

Pam Agnew / BC Forest Safety Council
June 19, 2018
By Pam Agnew / BC Forest Safety Council
Participants at the Wood Products Safety Summit 2018, work through a table discussion exercise during a presentation by process safety expert Dr Andy Reimer.
Participants at the Wood Products Safety Summit 2018, work through a table discussion exercise during a presentation by process safety expert Dr Andy Reimer. Photo by Pam Agnew
June 19, 2018 - The Wood Products Safety Summit 2018 held in Prince George, B.C., on June 6 offered more than 50 delegates a day of diverse presentations on safety – with a clear focus on the value of both increased collaboration and process safety. Manufacturing Advisory Group (MAG) member and Conifex’s safety manager, Darren Beattie, provided an update on B.C.’s new Forest Industry Forum, on behalf of MAG.


He said that the new Forest Industry Forum was a model that allowed for an all-inclusive consultative and collaborative forum between industry, the regulator and labour, with one shared focus: to bring about the best solutions for improved safety outcomes.

[This article is part of our 2018 Dust Safety Week coverage. Find more articles here.]

Darren shared how the latest forum had come about, going back to the 2012 Lakeland and Babine sawmill explosions; subsequent fatality inquests; and then the Macatee Report.

While industry has previously worked with the regulator on safety matters, things had come to a point that there needed to be a process for consultation and collaboration with industry, labour, and the regulator on safety issues. He said the initial forums had become less effective over time because the structure and format of those forums was not designed for collaboration. As a result, he and Matt Franks, another MAG member and Canfor’s safety manager, had been charged by MAG to consult with WorkSafeBC on a process to address a need for sustained collaboration that would allow the building of a strong working relationship between industry, the regulator and labour to fully address emerging issues, risk reduction and compliance.

With better communications, collaboration and shared commitment between the three groups to solve challenges, they have developed a more efficient and effective process built on broad, qualified stakeholder input and engagement that they all believe will lead to improved safety standards and performance.

The framework has evolved away from looking at areas of concern to forming technical working groups – manufacturing and harvesting working groups. Both MAG and the Wood Pellet Association of Canada (WPAC) feed into the technical manufacturing working group.

While the groups meet quarterly, they communicate constantly on current and emerging issues.

Darren explained that the participants on the manufacturing side included safety leaders from industry, labour, WorkSafeBC and the BC Forest Safety Council; and that there was equal representation on the harvesting side as well.

In regards to harvesting, the focus is on addressing fatigue, load securement, self-loading truck guarding and phase congestion. On the manufacturing side, the focus is on the Part 12 regulation section review on safeguarding and the conflict between lockout and safeguarding, high risk strategy updates and wood fibre storage.

Darren said the safeguarding technological advancement initiative, undertaken at Conifex, and supported by MAG and WorkSafeBC, had identified conflict within the regulation. The ultimate goal is to enable regulation to be formulated and implemented properly, which requires input, consultation and shared understanding in the early phases of testing and implementation. “There is an opportunity for industry to give input very early on in the process which is very important,” said Darren.

Meetings have been scheduled for the rest of 2018 including planning for the annual forestry summit as well as a part 12 review of regulations re safeguarding.

“We have one goal,” said Darren. “We are not there to lobby for any specific interests. We are there to find ways to achieve safer outcomes that see everyone go home safe.”

Read more about the Wood Products Safety Summit here.

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