West Fraser ensures council of safety policies

At last Monday’s council meeting, a letter of correspondence from West Fraser was received by five councillors plus acting mayor Mike Cave.

The letter was to reiterate their work safety programs and to ensure to council they are taking steps necessary to prevent future accidents, such as the explosions in Burns Lake and Prince George, from happening here in Quesnel.

“Over the last few years we have continually made investments to improve the safety of our operations and in particular to address issues relating to processing mountain pine beetle-killed wood,” the letter, written by CEO Hank Ketcham read.

West Fraser’s letter dictates employees as having a major role in preventing such accidents from recurring.

“Key in this effort is the contribution of all of our employees in hazard identification and taking corrective action if necessary,” it read.

Councillor Sushil Thapar suggested writing a letter to the mills and suggesting the implementation of dust collecting devices.

“Some mills have them, some of the newer mills, but not all of them do,” Thapar said.

“I think there should be a regulation around the dust collection to prevent any future accidents.”

Councillor Thapar pointed out that there is nothing in the mandate stating mandatory dust collection systems and would like a letter sent to WorkSafe B.C., also asking why there is no requirement for the collection system.

Councillor Thapar suggested mills aren’t installing the collection systems as it is a cost to the mill which doesn’t generate revenue.

Councillor Mike Cave, who works at a mill agreed with Coun. Thapar’s suggestion of sending a letter and added he’s “seen some spots where dust is collected a foot high.”

The letter West Fraser sent states: “employee safety is West Fraser’s first priority” and that West Fraser wants “you to be confident [they] are addressing potential risks in their operations.”

It continues “our expectations are to have industry-leading standards in safety, mill cleanliness and dust reduction.”

WorkSafe B.C. has been conducting an investigation into the mill fires and has posted findings onto their website, www.worksafebc.com/news_room/news_releases/2012/new_12_05_14.asp.

Observations listed on the web page are that the ignition source for both explosions seems to have been at the conveyor level, “where electrical and/or mechanical equipment was in operation in areas contained by walls and equipment.”

Refer to the web page www.worksafebc.com for the latest information regarding the investigations.

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