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WorkSafeBC finds more dust issues

A second phase of inspections following two deadly sawmill explosions earlier this year found nearly 60 per cent of forestry plants had levels of dust putting them at risk of fire or explosion, according to WorkSafeBC records.


November 20, 2012
By John Tenpenny

Inspections last spring targeted sawmills.

Phase 2 shifted to pulp mills, plywood plants and secondary manufacturers, which produce everything from flooring to pallets and cedar fencing.

Of 83 facilities inspected in July, August and early September, 48 of them were cited for having levels of dust that “present a hazard of fire and/or explosion,” according to inspection records obtained by The Vancouver Sun under a provincial freedom of information request.

WorkSafeBC ordered the plants to clean up the wood dust, which resulted in a “high degree” of compliance.
There were 21 orders to fix dust collections systems, ensure a safe blast zone between workers and dust collectors, and stop using high-pressure air to clean dust.

The province’s chief workplace safety agency said it was not surprised by the high proportion of plants that had hazardous levels of dust.

“We expected to see issues,” said Betty Pirs, WorkSafeBC’s vice-president of prevention services.
The forest industry is working to control dust, but it takes time for habits to change, she noted.

“It’s been an industry that’s been like this for 100 years, so you become used to what (dust levels) you see,” she said.

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