How is West Fraser addressing wood dust safety?

At West Fraser, safety is a core value and a business priority. We are committed to ensuring a safe working environment where wood dust is efficiently and safely managed in our mills. 

Since 2012, we have enhanced our housekeeping procedures and training, added new equipment, ventilation and collection systems and modified our existing systems to better control wood dust in our mills.

Our employees are active participants in managing wood dust, particularly the challenges related to the fine dust of dry, mountain pine beetle-killed wood that is being processed in our B.C. mills today.

Each West Fraser mill has implemented a comprehensive, site-specific, Wood Dust Mitigation and Control and Fire Safety Plan. Our overall approach is a multi-factor strategy to control and address wood dust accumulation through:

  • Passive containment to keep wood dust and debris in the equipment
  • Containment and ventilation for major dust generating equipment
  • Effective and efficient ventilation and collection systems to grab the dust at the source
  • Enhanced ventilation systems inspection and maintenance
  • Enhanced  housekeeping and clean-up protocols and standards
  • The introduction of new methods of clean-up and dust control, such as air and/or water wands
  • Added misting blowers and water mist systems
  • Increased frequency of inspections
  • Increased control of ignition sources 
  • Training and education to raise awareness and improve performance for effective wood dust management

We continue to improve our protocols and processes in order to tackle wood dust and ensure we are operating safe workplaces. While we have made significant progress, there is more to do. West Fraser’s Safety Manager and Wood Dust Coordinator are responsible for sharing best practices, new knowledge and ensuring that all of our mills are meeting rigorous standards for wood dust protocols and housekeeping.

West Fraser will be introducing the voluntary Wood Dust Mitigation and Control Audit standard in our mills starting in 2014.

How does West Fraser work within the industry to improve wood dust management?

While every person has a key role to play in workplace safety, addressing wood dust management effectively is also the result of collaboration within the industry and with regulators, educators and researchers.  We work closely with other forestry companies, safety organizations and WorkSafe BC to understand and address wood dust in our operations. We are committed to working collaboratively to deliver continued progress on advancing dust management systems across all mills.

We are a member of the Forest Industry Task Force and an active participant in the Manufacturers Advisory Group (or “MAG”). MAG is a group of dedicated safety personnel focused on identifying industry best practices for dust mitigation and who work collaboratively to develop shared industry practices for combustible wood dust.  MAG developed the Wood Dust Mitigation and Control Audit voluntary standard in 2013, which supports mills in implementing safer wood dust practices. The MAG’s efforts to improve the industry’s performance in managing wood dust were recently awarded BC Safety Authority’s Lieutenant Governor Safety Award for Excellence in Systems Safety.

The voluntary dust audit standard and other MAG resources for the management and mitigation of wood dust are available for all wood processing facilities from WorkSafe BC’s website.

Where can I go to learn more about wood and green building?

West Fraser's products are the result of responsible forest and production practices, you can learn more about Canadian wood, pulp and paper products at www.feel-good.ca, a site which provides extensive information about forest products and how to select sustainable wood products and suppliers.

ReThink Wood provides excellent resources about wood performance, cost, sustainability and the advantages of using wood in building: www.rethinkwood.com.

If you are interested in the use of wood and wood products in construction projects, architecture and design, you can also visit www.wood-works.org.

Does West Fraser own the forests it manages?

No. In Canada, 93% of forestland is publicly owned. West Fraser manages our working forests under tenure agreements with provincial governments. The company operates under some of the toughest environmental regulations anywhere in the world. 

In the United States, we purchase wood largely from private land owners and plantations.