Prince George -- The BC Safety Authority has issued 9 recommendations in its report on the explosion and fire at the Babine Forest Products sawmill of January 20th of 2012.
This is not the complete investigative report on this incident as WorkSafe BC has referred its report to Crown Counsel and the BC Safety Authority did not want to interfere with that process.
BC Safety Authority’s investigation assessed the installation and operation of regulated technical equipment at the mill. Their probe was aimed at finding out if equipment or work that falls under the safety Standards Act played a role in the tragic blast and fire which claimed two lives, injured 20 others and levelled the mill.
According to Greg Paddon, BCSA Director of Technical Programs, “our aim was to conduct a thorough investigation and learn all we could to prevent the recurrence of similar incidents. Now we can use that knowledge to initiate improvements toward the management of safety risks.”
As a result of the investigation, BCSA has made nine recommendations directed at wood processing facility owners and operators, the BC Office of the Fire Commissioner and the Canadian Standards Association.
Recommendations to Owners and Operators of Wood Processing Facilities:
1. Document a facility assessment to identify hazardous locations that is completed:
by a professional that is qualified to identify combustible dust hazardous locations, and
in accordance with a recognized industry standard for combustible dust hazardous locations.
2. Where hazardous locations are identified and contain regulated equipment, document a plan to either:
develop and implement auditable wood dust management practices for these locations that are
accepted by a qualified person as an effective means to manage the combustion hazard, or
configure the equipment for safe operation given the presence of the combustible dust hazard. Safe operating configurations include:
a) obtaining approval for operation in the hazardous location, or
b) permanent removal of the equipment from the hazardous location.
3. Incorporate any identified hazardous locations and the chosen means to manage the combustion hazards into the facility’s Fire Safety Plan, or other suitable facility document(s).
Recommendations to the BC Office of the Fire Commissioner:
4. Publish a list of professional qualifications suitable for individuals who identify wood dust combustion and explosion hazardous locations in an industrial environment.
5. Identify suitable fire and explosion prevention guidance material to be used in BC for the identification and classification of hazardous locations due to combustible wood dusts.
6. Add details of a qualified person and accepted guidance material related to hazardous location classification and management into the Fire Safety Plan requirements of the BC Fire Code.
Recommendations to the Canadian Standards Association:
7. Specifically identify wood dust as a combustible dust belonging to group G dusts in section 18 of the Canadian Electrical Code, Part 1.
8. Improve coordination between section 18 of the Canadian Electrical Code and referenced fire and explosion prevention standards for hazardous location identification and classification.
9. Improve the natural gas and propane code requirements and accompanying guidance material relating to hazardous location identification and alignment with fire prevention standards.