SAFE certification ready for pellet sector
September 18, 2012, Vancouver, BC - The Wood Pellet Association of Canada (WPAC) and the BC Forest Safety Council have finalized a SAFE certification system specific to the pellet industry, a move that was originally announced at the Pellet Fuel Institute (PFI) 2011 annual conference.
Citing an unacceptable safety record at the time, recent incidents at some of
Canada's larger plants, and rapidly climbing workers' compensation
insurance rates, WPAC executive director Gordon Murray said the need to focus attention on the safety
issue has never been greater.
"We have members who have been denied insurance," Murray told PFI delegates last year. "We have insurance
providers simply getting out of the pellet insurance market. We've seen
WCB (Worker's Compensation Board) rates increase by 54% in just three
years. It's not sustainable."
To combat this disturbing trend, WPAC joined forces with the BC
Forest Safety Council, a non-profit, industry-funded organization that
started tackling timber harvesting safety after the disastrous fatality
numbers tallied in 2005. The goal was to roll out a SAFE
Certification system similar to that developed for harvesting
operations, a system credited with a 45% drop in incident
rates and a 25% drop in WCB rates in the harvesting sector. The pellet
mill audit system was designed with input from both pellet
manufacturers and the insurance sector, and is now available for implementation at the BC Forest Safety Council website.
While designed with BC in mind, Murray notes that it can be rolled out for other jurisdictions with very few modifications. In fact, the US Industrial Pellet Association (USIPA) is reportedly looking at the certification system for its members.