BC Forest Safety Council Looks To Move Inside Sawmill ‘Gates’
Prince George, BC – The BC Forest Safety Council hopes to do for sawmills what it’s done for the logging industry – improve safety.
Plans are in the works to have the council’s reach extend beyond ‘stump-to-dump’ companies and into sawmills and planer mills.
Last April, the Manufacturers’ Advisory Group (MAG) – the group voluntarily established by primary wood manufacturers in response to the deadly blasts at the Babine Forest Products and Lakeland sawmills – approached the Council for assistance in administering its combusible dust mitigation and control program.
Now, BCFSC spokesperson, Rob Moonen says MAG is looking to further align itself with the Council. “Essentially, what’s envisioned is a 21-month pilot period with MAG joining the Council as their Health and Safety Association and, after that time, it would be re-evaluated by MAG to determine the effectiveness of the arrangements.”
Word of the potential alliance came to light last week at the Coroner’s Inquest into the deaths of Glenn Roche and Alan Little in the 2012 explosion at Lakeland. During his testimony, Moonen talked about the Foresty Safety Council’s mandate to work with BC’s harvesting sector to improve safety.
The council, itself, was the result of a provincial task force struck in 2003 when the number of logging-related deaths in BC averaged 25 per year. Moonen said a key initiative in improving safety has been the SAFE Companies program – a program that ensures companies have industry-standard health and safety programs in place, and also involves in-field inspections. More than 2600 companies are now SAFE certified and it’s a requirement for the bidding process in BC. When questioned about the program’s effectiveness, Moonen credited it with a decline in the average death rate to fewer than eight annually over the past six years and a drop in the serious injury rate from three times the provincial average, to two times.
The Council’s Board of Directors will decide whether to sign on to the pilot project tomorrow, and details on how it would roll out to the approximately 150 employers in the province would be fleshed out with MAG over the next month. Currently, the BC Forest Safety Council’s programs receive two funding streams: from WorkSafeBC and an industry-assessed levy. Moonen says WorkSafeBC has agreed to solely fund the first nine months of this trial foray into BC’s sawmills.