RICHMOND, BC — On November 1, WorkSafeBC officers will begin another round of inspections as part of the ongoing, comprehensive combustible dust initiative to focus sawmills and other wood processors in keeping worksites safe.

During the upcoming inspections WorkSafeBC officers will focus on dust accumulation; ventilation and dust collection systems; inspections and preventative maintenance of machinery and equipment with potential points of ignition; as well as ensure that operating locations have a plan to achieve effective and sustainable compliance going forward.

WorkSafeBC has designated a core team of 10 officers who will re-inspect approximately 150 sawmill operations between November 1, 2013 and January 31, 2014. WorkSafeBC officers have conducted more than 1,100 inspections of sawmill and other wood processing operations as part of the combustible dust safety initiative.

The combustible dust inspections began in late April 2012 following a directive order to all B.C. sawmills to conduct a risk assessment for combustible wood dust and implement a combustible dust control program. All operational sawmills inspected in the first phase complied with the directive order. In July 2012, inspections were expanded to include other wood manufacturing operations that could produce combustible dust. In fall 2012, WorkSafeBC officers re-inspected all sawmills to further evaluate industry’s ongoing efforts to manage combustible dust.

WorkSafeBC continues to work closely with industry, other regulators, and stakeholders to share important safety information to support the continued safety of sawmill workers. The information shared with industry is available on for all stakeholders and other interested parties to view.

Al Johnson, vice-president, Prevention Services, WorkSafeBC
“Wood dust management needs to be an integral and ongoing part of every sawmill’s operations. Our Prevention officers will be paying particular attention to dust accumulation, preventative maintenance of equipment and dust extraction systems, and each operating location’s plan to achieve sustainable compliance with wood dust management into the future.”

Honourable Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training
“Every employer wants their employees to be safe, and I am confident sawmill and wood product processing operations in B.C. are working hard to be compliant with the requirements. Sawdust can accumulate quickly, so it’s essential for mills to have equipment in place such as dust extraction systems, as well as ongoing maintenance, to ensure their operations are always in compliance.”

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