COFI sets up mills safety task force
Health and safety of employees is their number one priority, say a consortium of forest companies in B.C.
John Allan, CEO of the Council of Forest Industries, announced Wednesday that the industry has formed a task force to investigate combustion risks in mills. It’s part of an industry-wide response to mill safety following the fatal explosions at the Babine Forest Products mill in Burns Lake in January and at Lakeland Mills in Prince George last week. Each explosion and fire killed two millworkers.
Last week WorkSafeBC issued orders to all sawmill employers in B.C., directing them to conduct a full hazard identification, risk assessment, and safety review, with particular focus on combustible dust; dust accumulation; and potential ignition sources.
“Until WorkSafe BC concludes their investigations into these incidents, none of us can say with certainty what caused the explosions at Babine and Lakeland,” said Allan. “ It is not known if the causes of the two events are connected in any way.”
The COFI task force will be comprised of wood products manufacturing company representatives and external scientists, insurance engineers and experts, and other stakeholders. The Task Force will be mandated to:
• Quantify combustion risks related to dust from both green and dry wood;
• Identify best practices for dust mitigation from other industries that have issues related to dust in manufacturing;
• Develop an industry-wide, auditable standard that can be utilized to provide independent assurance of mill safety;
• Undertake outreach to all wood products manufacturing companies in BC to create an industry-wide approach to safety that is inclusive of both large and small operators.
“We will be continue to be transparent with our employees, with government and with each other if we identify new combustion hazards or means of improving safety procedures,” said Canfor CEO Don Kayne. “We have taken every opportunity to increase our efforts in safety since the serious incidents at Lakeland and Babine and this joint initiative is a next and very important step.”