Industry group representing 65% of lumber production in British Columbia to receive award recognizing collaborative efforts to control wood dust, improve sawmill safety

LOS ANGELES , December 2, 2013 () – British Columbia's Forest Products Manufacturers Advisory Group, whose members represent about 65% of the province's lumber production, are to be recognized on Dec. 2 for efforts to improve workplace safety, according to James Gorman, President & CEO of the Council of Forest Industries.

In a letter published in The Vancouver Sun, Gorman said the group would receive the BC Safety Authority's Lieutenant Governor Safety Award for Excellence in Systems Safety, in recognition of its collaborative efforts to improve safety.

Gorman said the award recognized the industry's "ongoing and exceptional" collaboration to control wood dust. He noted that the industry had acted quickly to improve wood dust management following two tragic sawmill explosions last year, and highlighted the efforts of forestry CEOs to immediately establish a task force to lead an industry-wide response to better understand and manage combustible wood dust.

Actions included sharing of safety resources and best practices, and the creation of a voluntary standard for wood dust management, said Gorman. In addition, cleanup protocols were enhanced and strategies developed for equipment and training to improve sawmill safety. The Task Force also sponsored independent scientific research to inform all of their strategies and to address challenges relating to the fine dust produced by dry, dead mountain pine beetle wood.

The Manufacturers Advisory Group also released a Wood Dust Mitigation and Control Audit last July, with the assistance of insurance companies, which can be used to ensure mill safety and is freely available from WorkSafeBC's website. Manufacturers Advisory Group member companies are committed to utilizing this audit in their facilities beginning next year, Gorman noted.

While tremendous progress has been made, more work needs to be done to achieve even higher dust management standards, said Gorman, noting that as more is learned, safety behaviors will be continuously adjusted to improve safety performance. He said the industry remained committed to working collaboratively with regulators to build on progress already made made and to look for ways to advance knowledge, research and technology.

The primary source of this article is a letter by James Gorman, COFI President and CEO, published in The Vancouver Sun, Vancouver, British Columbia, on Dec. 2, 2013.

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