Critical Control Management (CCM) is a game-changer for the wood pellet sector and the uptake at every plant across B.C. is testament to the industry’s ownership of and commitment to safety and leadership.
Despite significant safety advancements in the pellet industry, the potential remains for pellet plants to experience major unwanted events (MUEs) such as explosions fires and fatal accidents, that can’t be prevented by traditional approaches to safety.
In late 2020, WPAC and the BC Forest Safety Council (BCFSC) partnered to pursue a process known as Critical Control Management (CCM) which is already widely used in mining, chemical, and oil and gas industries around the world, but it’s new to the wood pellet industry. A CCM committee comprised of representatives from WPAC, BCFSC and Dalhousie University was struck in 2020 to support personnel at each plant as they worked to complete and submit bow ties and critical controls to WorkSafeBC by late 2021.
Participation has been key to the success of the initiative. From the outset, WPAC members embraced the initiative wholeheartedly with 14 of the 15 plants now completed, with the 15th underway. The information developed at the workshops will be put into a workable template for the plant to use when it submits its plan to WorkSafeBC.
“Overall the plan was ambitious and required a significant amount of effort— but we all knew it will make our plants safer,” says Gordon Murray, WPAC’s executive director. “Companies will understand their equipment better; workers will be able to operate and maintain that equipment safely; the equipment will be more reliable; and plant managers will know what activities are most important.”
Canfor Energy North Limited Partnership in Chetwynd, B.C., a joint venture partnership between Canfor and Pacific Bioenergy, completed the first pilot critical control project in collaboration with the BCFSC and Dalhousie. Grace Cox, safety manager, Wood Products Canada says the initiative has provided lots of great learning.
“We were able to gain a better understanding on how the process works, the value of involving all the stakeholders, leadership, trades and operators in the process,” says Cox. “Overall the site has a better understanding of their critical control systems and have clearly defined expectations, and we are better equipped to train our new employees.”
The multi-day workshops were supported by Kayleigh Rayner Brown, P.Eng., M.A.Sc., director of Obex Risk Ltd., who specializes in process safety and hazard analysis. BCFSC safety advisors, Bill Laturnus and Tyler Bartels, provide on-site and online support to all 15 operations for the workshops as well as ongoing support help the operations develop their internal systems to effectively manage these critical controls to ensure they operate 100 per cent of the time.
“The success of the initiatives is a direct result of both the commitment at every level of the companies and getting the right people to the workshop,” says Laturnus. “As a result, we were able to identify tangible and practical changes that could be easily implemented.”
In addition to the workshops, the CCM committee produced a series of videos to aid in the understanding of the process and its importance to employee safety. WorkSafeBC is funding a Dalhousie University Department of Process Engineering and Applied Science research project that will build on this work and transfer this knowledge to employees and employers throughout the wood pellet industry across Canada and internationally.
You can learn more about the CCM initiative at WPAC’s website.