10/31/2013 01:20 EDT | Updated 12/31/2013 05:12 EST

B.C. Sawmills: WorkSafe Conducting Inspections To Halt Wood Dust Buildup

RICHMOND, B.C. - Inspectors are heading back to 150 B.C. sawmills over the next three months to ensure the operations are doing everything possible to reduce the buildup of potentially explosive wood dust.

WorkSafeBC says a team of 10 officers will inspect the mills between Nov 1, 2013 and Jan. 31, 2014, as a continuation of the drive to reduce dust levels aggravated by the processing of the pine beetle-killed timber.

This is the second white-glove inspection for the mills since dust accumulation was implicated in an explosion and fire that killed two workers, injured 20 more and levelled the Babine Forest Products operation in Burns Lake on Jan. 20, 2012.

Two more workers died in a fiery blast in April 2012 at the Lakeland Mills in Prince George, although the cause of that disaster hasn't been revealed by investigators.

When the dust abatement program launched in late April 2012, WorkSafe noted all sawmills in B.C. complied with an order to cut buildups, but WorkSafeBC vice president Al Johnson says this round of checks will focus on preventative maintenance and dust accumulation.

WorkSafe officers have carried out more than 1,000 inspections of sawmills and other wood processing operations since the combustible dust safety initiative began.

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