New tools for BC manufacturers’ wood dust safety

December 17, 2014

Image from FIPI website

Image from FIPI website

Fire safety plans are critical when your work produces combustible dust.

In 2012, combustible dust accumulation led to the death of four workers and injury to 44 at sawmill explosions in Burns Lake and Prince George. In response, WorkSafeBC launched a Combustible Dust Initiative that includes hundreds of workplace inspections and new resources for employers.

One such resource – the new Fire Safety Plan Documentation Guide – makes it easier for employers to develop a fire safety plan, as required by the laws of three different jurisdictions within BC. The province’s Fire Inspection and Prevention Initiative (FIPI) plans to launch it on their website by January 2015.

“Many workplaces don’t have a very good fire safety plan, so we needed to put together some materials to help organizations develop fire safety plans,” says FIPI director Ray Roch. “It will help them gather all the information they need.”

Ray explained that in BC there are three agencies with jurisdiction over the different aspects of combustible dust management, as follows:

1) The BC Office of the Fire Commissioner and its Fire Services Act, under which is the BC Fire Code. The BC Fire Code includes requirements for dust-producing processes.

2) The BC Safety Authority and its Safety Standards Act with regulations that are “concerned about electrical and gas equipment in locations with combustible dust and that the workers who operate that equipment are competent to do so.”

3) WorkSafeBC and its requirement to “keep combustible dust accumulation below levels that would be considered dangerous.”

“We wanted to make sure employers could do what they needed to do – to comply with three sets of regulations. We need the three agencies to speak together in one voice, with no conflict between the regulations,” Ray says. “One of the ways the Fire Services Act and the BC Fire Code could address this was by having the workplace develop a robust fire safety plan.”

FIPI was created in November 2012 with a goal “to improve health and safety in wood products manufacturing by insuring that all the manufacturers were properly addressing combustible wood dust hazards,” reads the FIPI website.

Thanks to Ray for telling me more – and stay tuned for an update on how employers are using the new resource.

Conflict resolution part of construction safety conference

December 03, 2014

Photo credit: Glenda Sims on Flickr

Photo credit: Glenda Sims on Flickr

“If you want to get respect, you have to give respect first.”

That was a key message from The Top 5 Do’s and Don’ts of Workplace Conflict Resolution says Sam Livingstone, a Construction Safety Officer (CSO) who took part in this break-out session at Bridging the Gap – the 2014 construction safety conference in Richmond, BC, Canada.

Sam – who is @SafetySammy on Twitter – said the session was well received. It included actors who showed the right way – and the wrong way – to deal with conflict.

One great tip, for example is “DON’T rush to your solutions with a person who is angry, belligerent or emotional.” Instead it’s better to “be ready to listen when someone is emotional and then explore mutually acceptable resolutions.”

Sam said he’s talked with other CSOs about what’s behind a lack of respect.

“They say ‘I don’t get respect; people don’t take me seriously,’ or ‘They don’t give me the respect I deserve.’ My first question is ‘Do you give them the respect they deserve?’ If you’ve got a tradesman with 30 years of experience doing his trade, do you go up to him and start insulting his work habits, or do you acknowledge his experience first?”

Construction sites are notorious for what I will call “macho attitudes” – and I’ve heard some pretty extreme stories by friends who work in this industry. But this is changing, now that BC employers are bound by new workplace bullying and harassment policies. I asked Sam about the challenging nature of promoting an anti-bullying approach in the harsh construction climate.

“Definitely it’s challenging, but it doesn’t mean you don’t try,” he said, describing how things have changed. “I remember when I started doing this job – as a foreman – from management’s perspective, I wasn’t doing my job if the guys didn’t hate me. Now that’s changed… It’s part of an ongoing process.”

WorkSafeBC’s Bullying and harassment prevention tool kit includes “resources to help employers and workers understand their legal duties, and prevent and address bullying and harassment,” it reads.

Thanks to Sam for telling me about this – and please do let me know if you’ve seen any changes in this industry.

New tools for BC manufacturers’ wood dust safety

“Many workplaces don’t have a very good fire safety plan,” says Ray Roch, director of BC’s Fire Inspection and Prevention Initiative (FIPI). “We needed to put together some materials to help organizations develop fire safety plans…

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