As a result of explosions at two sawmills in 2012, the BC forest industry continued its significant and collaborative response to addressing the issue of combustible dust in our manufacturing facilities. In 2014, both WorkSafeBC and the BC Safety Authority released their investigations into these tragic explosions. These investigations confirmed the direction of our facility improvements since 2012, which have been focused on reducing the risks associated with combustible dust and ignition sources.
By late 2014, we had spent in excess of $20 million in capital and infrastructure improvement across our mills to better contain and remove wood dust at the source. Over this time, we also significantly increased resourcing levels for cleanup activities. In 2014, we also completed an evaluation of our facilities in accordance with the Wood Dust Mitigation and Control Audit, developed in 2012 and 2013 with input from industry, the insurance industry and third-party research organizations. The audit process identified a very good level of overall wood dust management across Canfor, with some minor opportunities to continue to improve wood dust and ignition source management. We are in the process of identifying these opportunities.
Thanks to the excellent work of our employees, we had no combustible dust orders during WorkSafeBC’s Phase 4 inspections in spring 2014, as well as WorkSafeBC’s Q3/Q4 2014 wood dust initiative.
We continue to work with industry partners, regulatory agencies and our employees to improve the management of combustible dust and improve mill safety. According to Ross Lennox, General Manager, Safety/Continuous Improvement: “Every time we learn something new – whether it is through an audit, a regulatory agency inspection, or a safety opportunity that is raised by one of our employees – we have a chance to improve safety in our facilities.”