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Frustratingly, the Canadian wood manufacturing industry, which is concentrated primarily throughout British Columbia, continues to struggle with implementing combustible wood dust safety, and if a recent string of fines by WorkSafeBC (Canada’s equivalent of OSHA) is any indication, violations are not being taken lightly. Over the last several months, the following citations have been handed out to the following companies within the Canadian wood industry.

  • Conifex, a pellet mill, was fined $75,000 for combustible dust hazards imposed on the facility’s workers. (via Canadian Occupational Safety)
  • NW Wood Preservers,  a lumber manufacturer, was fined more than $48,000 when a dust inspection program that the company had set up was found to be was “informal and unwritten.” 3″ of wood dust was discovered in crevices throughout the facility’s chipper room. (via Canadian Occupational Safety)
  • C. & C. Wood Products Ltd., a lumber manufacturer, was fined more than $68,000 after 4″ of dust was found around potential ignition sources. A second mill owned by the company was fined nearly $7,000 after a 40″-deep pile of wood dust was discovered.  (via Canadian Occupational Safety)
  • Carrier Lumber Ltd., a lumber manufacturer, was fined $30,000 high accumulations of combustible dust “found on cable trays under machine centres; in the merchandising area (especially in the variable frequency drive room); in the chip screening area; on a waste conveyor; and on a hydraulic centre reservoir tray and metal wall sheeting near the tray.” The build-up reportedly amounted to 3/8″ of wood dust. Previously in October 2014, Carrier was fined $14,999.29 for combustible wood dust hazards after it was found that 8″ had accumulated in various parts of  the facility. (via The Prince George Citizen)
  • Brink Forest Products Ltd., a lumber manufacturer was fined $150,000 for violations including “hazardous accumulations of combustible dust were found on and around a motor in the mill.” Previously in September 2014, the company was also fined $68,773.47, also for high levels of sawdust accumulation. (via The Prince George Citizen)

Failure to properly clean combustible wood dust under the guidance of formalized training and a documented maintenance program with the help of a certified explosion proof vacuum cleaner can result in serious accidents, just like this explosion that happened in March at a Vancouver fibreboard manufacturer. Thankfully, no one in that facility was injured during the mishap, but the damage did halt production while imminent punishment over safety violations will put greater scrutiny on the manufacturer’s operations for the foreseeable future. With WorkSafeBC doubling down on its fines with wood manufacturers throughout Canada, that doesn’t sound like a predicament any company should want to risk putting themselves in.