WPAC Members Commit to Ambitious Safety Work Plan

Gord Murray

Treating forest workers fairly, with the highest priority placed on the health and safety of employees, is a critical value that became embedded in the Wood Pellet Association of Canada (WPAC)’s sustainability statement in their newly published 2022 Work Plan. It is also reflected in the common understanding that the best way to achieve the safety goals is through strong communications, alignment on priorities, and sharing knowledge and learnings from both positive and negative experiences.

Since 2014, WPAC’s Safety Committee has anchored its vision in a yearly Work Plan that holds the association accountable to continue searching out new technologies and research to support a safer culture, communicating best practices and safety news, and collaborating across the country on all safety matters. Last year was no exception which focused on both leadership and collective safety and was achieved in cooperation with many partners, members, and every worker across the industry. Key initiatives included:

  • WPAC partnered with the BC Forest Safety Council (BCFSC) and Dalhousie University to improve pellet industry practices regarding equipment isolation.
  • In cooperation with the BCFSC, WorkSafeBC, and media partner Canadian Biomass, WPAC held the Belt Dryer Safety Symposium to share the learnings from combustible dust incidents.
  • With a strong endorsement from WorkSafeBC, WPAC decided to pursue a process called Critical Control Management (CCM), and together WPAC and BCFSC, in conjunction with the industry, completed bowties and critical controls for WorkSafeBC.
  • Released best practices on the safe handling and storage of pellets which is part of a four-year research project involving WPAC and BioFuelNet Canada and funded through the federal Canadian Agricultural Partnership.
  • WPAC created a One-stop Safety Resource, available online for anyone looking for up-to-date information and resources on safety.

Scott Bax, chair of WPAC’s safety committee, is impressed with the commitment to safety across the sector.

“Our ambitious commitments have resulted in remarkable progress with the effort of hundreds of dedicated individuals and organizations who are continuing to create a world-class safety system for bioenergy,” said Bax.

The year ahead

WPAC’s members’ unparalleled value of safety is laid out in the Safety Committee’s 2022 Work Plan with a focus on several key initiatives, which include:

  • Advancing Critical Control Management
    • Building on 2021 learnings and successes, expand this knowledge across Canada.
  • Control System Conformity with ISO or other accepted standards
    • Consult with WorkSafeBC to support all plants to provide information regarding the requirements of the ISO 13849 standard or any other standard.
  • Improving belt and rotary drum dryer safety
    • Establish a working group to analyze and improve rotary drum dryer safety
  •  Sharing best practices on deflagration isolation
    • Promote the results of this work and host a symposium to share information
  •  Supporting industry in basic plant operator competency training
    • Complete the basic plant operator competency resources and launch online
  •  Training and supervision of workers
    • Four-part webinar series focussing on Critical Control Management, equipment isolation, belt dryer safety, and rotary drum dryer symposium
  • Host industry-wide Safety Summit
    • Targeting for late spring/early summer in Prince George, B.C.

To read the full 2022 WPAC Safety Work Plan visit www.pellet.org/safety

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