WorkSafeBC issues directive order to province's sawmill employers, requires risk assessment of combustible dusts hazards, development and implementation of control program

Wendy Lisney

Wendy Lisney

Apr 27, 2012 – WorkSafeBC

RICHMOND, British Columbia , April 26, 2012 (press release) – WorkSafeBC is issuing a directive order to all sawmill employers.

The directive order is being delivered by email or by WorkSafeBC officers to all sawmill employers in B.C. All employers in this classification will have the order within the next 48 hours.

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WorkSafeBC Directive Order to Sawmill Employers

In the past 3 months explosions and fires at two sawmills in British Columbia have resulted in fatalities and serious injuries to workers.

This employer is ordered to, without undue delay, at its sawmill and any related facility:

- undertake a comprehensive risk assessment with respect to hazards created by combustible dusts, which assessment must include a thorough inspection of the employer’s facility, and

- develop and implement an effective combustible dust control program based on the risk assessment.

A WorkSafeBC prevention officer will be conducting a follow-up inspection on site no later than May 9, 2012, to evaluate the employer’s actions taken immediately to fully comply with the order in the Inspection Report.

Failure to comply with this order without undue delay will result in further action, including possible sanctions and stop work orders. A WorkSafeBC officer will follow up on this order to evaluate compliance.

The employer’s attention is drawn to the following requirements in the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation:

5.71 Flammable air contaminants

(1) If an operation or work process produces a combustible or flammable air contaminant in concentrations that may present a risk of fire or explosion, the employer must provide a separate exhaust ventilation system for the operation or work process.

5.81 Combustible dust

If combustible dust collects in a building or structure or on machinery or equipment, it must be safely removed before accumulation of the dust could cause a fire or explosion.

3.5 General requirement

Every employer must ensure that regular inspections are made of all workplaces, including buildings, structures, grounds, excavations, tools, equipment, machinery and work methods and practices, at intervals that will prevent the development of unsafe working conditions.

A copy of OHS Guidelines G5.81 and G5.71 have been provided to this employer under separate cover.

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