WorkSafeBC continued to issue stop work orders and fines this spring for sawmills that failed wood dust inspections more than two years after a pair of deadly mill explosions. But mills are starting to push back against WorkSafeBC’s conclusions with at least one mill appealing the results.
In a fourth round of inspections between April and June, 18 percent of 82 mills received citations for dust accumulations, ventilation problems, inadequate dust control programs or the use of high-pressure air to move dust. Another 20 percent of the sawmills were cited for less severe infractions such as inadequate dust inspections and training of workers, according to WorkSafeBC inspection reports obtained by The Vancouver Sun through a freedom of information request.
The numbers are considered an improvement from a 42 percent failure rate for the more serious infractions in the previous round.
Sawmills are being cited less often for failing to clean the main areas of their facilities, but WorkSafeBC is issuing orders to do a better job of cleaning wood dust from harder-to-get-to areas such as roof beams. Mills are also being cited for not doing a proper job of cleaning secondary mill buildings.
Companies issued stop-work orders in this recent inspection blitz include Apollo Forest Products in Fort St. James, Dunkley Lumber near Prince George, Teal Cedar in Surrey, West Fraser in Quesnel, and Western Forest Products in Ladysmith. WorkSafeBC issues stop-work orders when they consider there is an imminent risk that could result in severe injury or death.