Safety Order: Electrical equipment located in sawmills



Reference number
SO-EL 2012-01

This safety order is issued pursuant to section 31 of the Safety Standards Act. A person affected by this safety order may appeal this order in writing to the Safety Standards Appeal Board within 30 days. The appeal process is set out on the Safety Standards Appeal Board's website at This order may not be stayed during an appeal.

Failure to comply with a safety order is an offence under section 72 of the Safety Standards Act.


This safety order is being issued to owners and operators of sawmills utilizing electrical equipment. Electrical equipment is a regulated product under the Safety Standards Act.

In the past 3 months explosions and fires at two sawmills in British Columbia have resulted in fatalities and serious injuries to workers. Previous incidents have also been identified in which wood dust has been ignited by electrical equipment.

Although the investigations into the two recent fatal incidents are ongoing and the causes of those incidents have not been identified, this Safety Order is aimed at minimizing the risk of fire or explosion related to regulated electrical equipment being a potential combustion or ignition source in wood processing operations.

Required actions

Any owner or operator of a wood processing facility will take the following actions at any facility under its direction or control as soon as practicable:

  1. Verify that a valid operating permit is in place for the operation and maintenance of electrical equipment located at sites with a supply service at a voltage greater than 750 V or a combined electrical service capacity in excess of 250 kVA. Directive D- E3 070801 7 Electrical Operating Permit Requirements provides further details on requirements for electrical operating permits.
  2. Develop a process to report incidents involving electrical equipment or electrical work. Directive D-E3 070115 1 Incident Reporting Requirements With Respect To Electrical Technology provides further details on requirements for incident reporting.
  3. Report any incidents that have occurred since 1st January 2010 and that meet the reporting criteria of Directive D-E3 070115 1 Incident Reporting Requirements With Respect To Electrical Technology and that have not been previously reported.
  4. Verify that the interior of enclosures of electrical motor control centres, power distribution centres, or similar switchgear are clear and free of known or potential combustible or explosive materials such as wood dust.
  5. Verify that electrical cabinet doors and access covers for energized electrical equipment are closed and secured with all fasteners in place and that a process is in place to keep such fasteners closed and secure.
  6. Verify that ventilation systems for electrical equipment enclosures are clean, working properly and installed in accordance with the equipment manufacturer’s instructions and that a process is in place to keep such systems clean and functional.
  7. Submit a completed copy of the attached Safety Order Response Form to the BC Safety Authority no later than 13th July 2012.

If you have any questions regarding this safety order, please contact your local electrical safety officer through the BC Safety Authority call centre by phone at 1.866.566.7233 or by email at .



Stephen Hinde, P. Eng.

Provincial Safety Manager, Electrical




SBC 2003, c. 39         Safety Standards Act

B.C. Reg. 105/2004    Safety Standards General Regulation

B.C. Reg. 100/2004    Electrical Safety Regulation

D-E3 070801 7           Electrical Operating Permit Requirements

D-E3 070115 1           Incident Reporting Requirements With Respect To Electrical Technology



More information on hazardous locations

Hazardous Location Presentation