Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine (January 2016)
A British Columbia company was fined nearly $56,000 on December 21, 2015 after WorkSafeBC completed its inspection of an explosion that injured three workers and it would-pellet plant in Burns Lake on October 9, 2014.
According to an incident investigation report released on December 22, 2015 the incident took place during a maintenance shutdown in the drier system of a plant owned by Pinnacle Renewable Energy Inc. three of the employees were standing by a burner door when the explosion knocked him backwards and left them with bruises and burn injuries.
The subsequent investigation found that exposing flammable gases to high temperatures and oxygen had caused the explosion. And in-rush of oxygen through the open burner door had hit a hot spot inside the contained system.
WorkSafeBC determined that the company had not followed proper procedures for burner cleanout, which required adequate cooling time before opening. Additionally, there was no operator in the control room to monitor the system’s temperature. “Lack of coordination between the Production Superintendent, the Lead Hand and the Welder were factors in the incident, as well as the failure to effectively coordinate the control-room operator’s duties,” the report reads.
The burner outlet had reached a temperature of 390°C before the explosion occurred; it had been at 358°C when the first burner door was unbolted. The company’s written procedure states that the burner must cool down to a temperature below 80° before shutting down combustion air fan and there must be a lockout procedure before doors open.
“This employer had not provided workers with adequate information, instruction, training and supervision to ensure the health and safety of those workers in carrying out their work and to ensure the health and safety of other workers at the workplace,” WorkSafeBC states in a summary of outstanding orders.
Every worker must be able to work in a safe place and every employer MUST strive to ensure that their workplace is as safe as it can be. That is the law in almost every jurisdiction in Canada.
Under the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), section 25, subsection 2(a) covers the need for protection with information. It states,
“An employer shall,
- provide information, instruction and supervision to a worker to protect the health or safety of the worker.”
Pinnacle Renewable probably did not read the BC safety act or did not hire a safety professional qualified enough to ensure that the safety act’s contents were being addressed at the plant floor.
‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.
Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Advanced Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.