Canadian Biomass Magazine

Mark your calendars! New pellet safety webinar series coming soon

May 8, 2021
By Fahimeh Yazdan Panah

Safety is the foundation of our pellet industry. Our work around safety never ends; we are constantly striving for new ways to improve safety whether it be the equipment we use or the processes that support good, safe decision making.

To achieve this, we have to start with the basic foundations of pellet plant safety. That’s why the Wood Pellet Association of Canada (WPAC)’s Safety Committee, in co-operation with WorkSafeBC, the University of British Columbia Biomass and Bioenergy Research Group, and our media partner Canadian Biomass magazine, are hosting the Safety Foundation webinar series. This six-part series, focused on process safety, has broad applications across all sectors and is free and open to everyone. The first webinar in the series will launch May 18, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. Pacific; new webinars will be released every two weeks after. You can find out more here.

Immediately following each webinar, there will be a quiz that participants will need to successfully answer in order to pass the webinar and be issued a certificate. Those who successfully pass the six webinars, will be issued a certificate for the Safety Foundation Course.

“We believe this type of training is a first for the pellet industry globally,” said Scott Bax, chief operating officer at Pinnacle Renewable Energy and chair of WPAC’s Safety Committee. “We’ve created the series based on what our committee has observed over the past seven years, choosing the areas where we feel we could have the biggest impact from a safety perspective.”


The first two webinars will cover bow tie analysis, which is a simple and effective tool for communicating risk assessment results in order to identify the links between the potential causes, preventative and mitigative controls and consequences of a major incident:

  • Bow Tie Analysis Part I: Using bow tie analysis to assess combustible dust hazards and controls – Kayleigh Rayner Brown, research associate at Dalhousie University.
  • Bow Tie Analysis Part II: Using bow tie analysis for critical controls management – Cherie Whelan, director for SAFE Companies, and Bill Laturnus, safety advisor, BC Forest Safety Council.

The next two webinars are focused on human machine interface and effective use of alarms. Poor alarm management is one of the leading causes of unplanned downtime in process industries contributing to billions of dollars in lost production every year. This introductory principle-based webinar will help participants to understand how the system should convey and facilitate accurate and timely fault and diagnostic information to operators and support effective plant management. The webinars will encourage attendees to think about how their control systems could be optimized for efficiency, safety and operator detection and decision making.

  • Human-Machine Interface (HMI) Part I: Situation awareness and effective alarm and HMI design practices – Jenny Coleman, human factors investigator, WorkSafeBC, Charles Bloom, senior partner, Human Centered Solutions, and Jamie Errington, senior partner, Human Centered Solutions.
  • Human-Machine Interface (HMI) Part II: A journey to improved situational awareness – Jenny Coleman, human factors investigator, WorkSafeBC, and Brian Grantham, pulp manager, West Fraser.

The final two webinars in this series will discuss best practices for managing the major safety hazards in wood pellet manufacturing including wood pellet off-gassing, self-heating and silo fires, and combustible dust and gas management. Self-heating, off-gassing and dust/gas explosions are significant challenges for the industry that have already resulted in significant losses of capital investments and tragic loss of life. With the growth of the bioenergy sector, it is important not only that opportunities for bioenergy are implemented in an efficient and economic manner, but also safely.

  • Safe Handling and Storage of Biomass Part I: Off-gassing, self-heating and silo fires – Fahimeh Yazdan Panah, director of research and technical development, Wood Pellet Association of Canada.
  • Safe Handling and Storage of Biomass Part II: Combustible dust and combustible gas – Jeff Mycroft, regional sales manager, Fike Canada.

Each webinar is one hour and open to everyone including operating personnel at every level of the pellet plant, supervisors, senior management, control operators, other industry participants, equipment suppliers, and safety professionals. We encourage you to share the news about this new webinar series with your colleagues across industry. You can read more by visiting our website.

For more information, contact:

Fahimeh Yazdan Panah
Director of research and technical development
Wood Pellet Association of Canada

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