Vaagen Fibre Limited has been written up in WorkSafe Magazine; and while there certainly are some pages of the WorksafeBC publication (worksafemagazine.com) where you really don’t want to see your company name listed, this shout-out was a welcome one for Vaagen.
In fact, almost 10 of the 38 pages in the September/October 2014 issue are taken up with administrative penalties— monetary fines imposed on employers for health and safety violations of the Workers Compensation Act and/ or the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation.
But Vaagen got the ink in another part of the publication—the section that educates and celebrates good practices. The mill has been recognized for their work in controlling combustible wood Dust (CWD), a problem that became a major safety issue in wood products facilities throughout the province following explosions in two B.C. mills in 2012.
According to the article, four of the mill’s 80 employees are dedicated to the task of mill clean-up. In addition, engineering controls were put in place. Dust extraction ventilation systems and improved containment of dust in conveyor systems has helped a lot.
A safety advertisement in the magazine says that fine wood dust levels greater than 1/8” and covering more than five per cent of a given work area should be reported to your supervisor immediately.
“The expectation was that we would become the role model for others to follow,” said Vaagen’s General Manager Randy Erdman about the CWD program.
The article states that the mill now exceeds some of the compliance guidelines. They have two dust inspections per day instead of one; and improved paperwork has workers providing solutions.
“This keeps awareness up,” Erdman said. “This keeps it in our face. That’s the only way it won’t regress.”