Dust study findings “surprising”

study on sawmill dust has found that fine wet dust is just as explosive as dry dust

Central Interior Logging Association

FP Innovations’ study on sawmill dust has found that fine wet dust is just as explosive as dry dust. The study was commissioned as a result of the Burns Lake and Lakeland mill explosions last year. The study also shows that, contrary to speculation, pine beetle wood dust is no more explosive than dust from other kinds of timber. The difference with milling pine beetle wood over other types is that beetle wood may produce a higher volume of dust in the air over the course of a shift. WorkSafeBC has confirmed wood dust suspended in the air was the cause of both explosions.

According to the report’s Executive Summary, there are some regional differences in dust accumulations:

“The regional comparison showed similarities with the timber processed by mills in the regions. The Northern and Central Interior, where all the MPB sawmills were located, on average had drier and finer dust. The Southern Interior had mainly SPF sawmills and had the highest average accumulation rates. On average, Coastal sawmills had wetter samples.”

Timber companies around the province are investing millions of dollars in dust control equipment.

They have also completed the “Wood Dust Mitigation and Control Audit”, a resource to help manage combustible wood dust hazards.

Funding for the study was shared by, the United Steelworkers, and 10 sawmilling companies.To see the full study, go to www.worksafebc.com/news_room/features/2012/assets/pdf/SawmillWoodDustSamplingAnalysisExplosibility.pdf