Infographic: Health and safety snapshot of Ontario sawmills

Monday, February 01, 2016

Leading causes of lost-time injuries include contact with wood, lumber, or equipment

Forestry-033B Health and safety snapshot for Ontario sawmills and mill products - Please save, print and post to encourage discussion in your workplace

Cover of infographic for sawmills and mill productsOf the more than 4,000 Ontarians who work full-time in the Ontario sawmill and mill products sector, the majority of lost-time injuries – injuries severe enough to cause a worker to lose time from work – are from contacts with objects or equipment, according to 2014 injury statistics from the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB).

“Overall, this group belongs to a high hazard sector,” says Tom Welton, Industrial Director at Workplace Safety North (WSN), “with a high number of injuries from being struck by wood and lumber or coming into contact with equipment.”

About 42 per cent of injuries occur when the worker is struck by a an object – whether falling, flying, swinging, or rolling. The worker may have a hand, finger, or arm slammed in a swinging door or gate, or pinched by an exposed moving part of the machinery. Safe use of machinery is critical, especially use of a ‘lock-out/tag-out’ program during maintenance or removing a jam.

The second most common injury for these workers includes sprains and strains that come from repetitive motion, bending, climbing, reaching, twisting, lifting, pulling, pushing, and carrying or turning objects. An emphasis on prevention of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), and mobile lifting equipment can help prevent 33 per cent of all workplace injuries for this group of workers.

Slips, trips, and falls in the workplace are the third most common injury for these industrial workers, with the majority of falls occurring at the same level or to a lower level, for example, a floor, walkway, or non-moving vehicle.

Key hazards in sawmills

  • Struck by objects, including wood and lumber
  • Contact with objects and equipment 
  • Musculoskeletal disorders – pains and strains
  • Inadequate or improper use of lockout
  • Slips, trips and falls
  • Exposure to hazardous substances
  • Workplace violence and harassment 
  • Motor vehicle incidents

Workplace Safety North field staff are available to conduct dosimeter surveys of work areas to identify issues with noise levels compared to legislative standards and provide recommendations. They also conduct on-site audits to identify machine guarding, lockout and other machine hazards, and share recommendations with regards to specific slip and fall hazards identified in the workplace. 


New Joint Health and Safety Committee certification training programs - Training updated specifically for forestry sector

Free Resources

Sawmill Safety Booklet – WSN

Forestry-related resources include: safety meeting talks, inquest recommendations, posters, sample policies and procedures, and more