The Wood Pellet Association of Canada (WPAC) places the highest priority on the health & safety of employees and treating forest workers fairly. It’s in our sustainability statement and in our 2024 Safety Committee Workplan. It is also reflected in our common understanding that the best way to achieve our safety goals is through a focus on strategic initiatives, effective communications, and sharing new developments and learnings in our industry for both continuous improvement and overcoming challenges.
Since 2014, WPAC’s Safety Committee has set out an annual workplan to undertake strategic initiatives that reflect the needs of members and emerging trends. This workplan is responsive, as well as proactive, to enhance the safety of the sector and continue to foster a strong safety culture. Last year was an outstanding year for the pellet sector and advancing safety, made possible through collaboration and partnerships. Achievements and outcomes included:
- Launch of Plant Operator Training Program in May 2023. This is completed with support of a WorkSafeBC Small Initiatives grant.
- Completion of process safety management (PSM) research project in collaboration with Dalhousie University, BC Forest Safety Council (BCFSC), Dust Safety Science, and Obex Risk Ltd, through a WorkSafeBC grant. This project expands on the Critical Control Management project.
- We conducted a bow tie analysis on combustible gas in drum dryers in collaboration with Premium Pellet and created a summary report outlining how combustible gas can form and key actions to prevent this from occurring.
- We hosted the Wood Pellet and Bioenergy Safety Summit in Prince George on Nov. 15-16, which included a WorkSafeBC Human Factors and Process Industries workshop.
- We provided a safety workshop before the WPAC AGM in Ottawa on Sept. 18, 2023, led by Dr. Paul Amyotte, P.Eng.
- We co-hosted two other Human Factors and Process Industries workshops with WorkSafeBC in Kelowna and Prince George.
This year’s outlook
WPAC members continue to provide their time and expertise to collaborate as a collective industry and undertake an ambitious Safety Committee Workplan for 2024. Key initiatives include:
Process Safety Management (PSM): Build on the PSM research project to enhance the adoption of process safety elements through a proposed, sector-wide PSM implementation initiative. There is a significant business case for PSM, and this proactive approach positions the industry well in the evolving landscape of PSM regulations.
Mobile Equipment Safety: Conduct a bow tie analysis customized for wood pellet operations to improve safety of workers, including pedestrian awareness, site layout, equipment and procedures.
Improve Drum Dryer Safety: Participate in a symposium and form a working group to improve rotary drum dryer safety.
Respond to New WorkSafeBC Combustible Dust Regulations: Provide tools and action plans to identify and close gaps to align with new WorkSafeBC regulations. This also supports operations outside BC should regulations change in other jurisdictions.
Host Industry-wide Safety Summit: Timeline, agenda and speakers to be confirmed.
Read the full 2024 WPAC Safety Committee Workplan here.
WPAC’s safety committee works in close cooperation with WorkSafeBC and the BCFSC. The committee welcomes new members. If you are interested, please contact Gord Murray by phone at (250) 837-8821 or email email@example.com.
Julie Griffiths is WPAC Safety Committee Chair and Quality, Sustainability and Environmental Program Co-ordinator for Shaw Renewables.