Steve Zika Hampton Affiliates chief executive officer said to Lakes District News that Decker Lakes Forest Products was recently voluntarily shut down by Hampton Affiliates for a couple of days to deal with clean up issues.
As reported in the Lakes District News edition of May 30, 2012, Decker Lake Forest Products was recently with a number of inspection orders by WorkSafe B.C. that required further action be taken.
The orders were included in a WorkSafe B.C. report following the inspections of sawmills that took place after the Babine Forest Products tragedy occurred in January this year.
WorkSafe B.C. officers inspected 36 sawmills in the region and from that, a total of 59 inspection reports were issued, 23 of which included orders requiring further action to be taken.
WorkSafe B.C. noted that wood dust build up at Decker Lake Forest Products was in contravention of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations and subsequently a corrective order was issued.
Hampton Affiliates then reported plans to improve sawdust collection and removal in the sawmill, however sawdust conditions found during a follow up WorkSafe B.C. inspection appeared unchanged and the sawmill was issued with an order of continued non compliance as on site conditions were still in contravention of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
A follow up inspection of housekeeping measures was then conducted at the sawmill on May 1, 2012, and WorkSafe B.C. noted improvements in the overall housekeeping and reduction in combustible wood dust.
Zika said, “There has been a lot of extra time spent on clean up at Decker Lake Forest Products. We want to make sure the sawmill is safe and we have put in extra fans [to deal with sawdust] and have some more fans on order. We do everything we can to make sure it is a safe environment.”
Zika said the clean up crew works continually to ensure a safe environment. “Our practice is not just waiting until Saturday to clean, we are doing things during shifts … it’s constant cleaning.”
He said at Decker Lake Forest Products and Babine Forest Products both use suction systems that lead to a bag house, fans and misters in an effort to combat sawdust. “We use misters to keep the levels of dust in the air down,” he explained.
Zika said extra cleaning shifts at Decker Lake Forest Products has also been scheduled.
“We have now doubled and tripled our clean up efforts … we have the all clear to operate from WorkSafe B.C. …. we didn’t get shut down by WorkSafe B.C. like other sawmills did following the inspections … Hampton Affiliates is working really hard to make sure that people are safe.”
Megan Johnston, communications officer from WorkSafe BC said there is still outstanding issues that need to be addressed at Decker Lake Forest Products. “We’re continuing to work with this employer to achieve compliance with the outstanding orders,” she said adding, that Hampton Affiliates is making reasonable progress to address the issues.
In response, Zika said, “We continue to take short term actions to clean up the sawmill and overall mill site. We have installed some new ventilation equipment and will continue to evaluate additional equipment that can be ordered and installed at Decker Lake Forest Products as needed. We have submitted our plan to Work Safe as required by June 6, 2012, which is consistent with all the other sawmills in British Columbia. We are also participating with the industry group to address mill safety in relation to combustible dust.”