New logging safety information package

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Infographic, list of recent fatalities, hazard alert, and safety discussion points

Logging Safety Information Package - Free download--please print, share, and encourage discussion in your workplace

Cover of logging safety information packageThe Ontario logging sector – both conventional and mechanical – has one of the highest fatality rates in the province. In the past five years, there have been 13 traumatic fatal injuries in the Ontario forestry industry. That’s almost three per year.

Most experienced forestry workers don’t think it will happen to them, but regular – and potentially lethal – hazards like driving, cold weather, working alone, fog, visibility, chicots (dead, rotted trees), and dangerous machinery require the utmost vigilance. The following list shows all forestry-related fatalities over the past five years in Ontario.

  • Worker struck and killed by a chicot that had been dislodged by a skidder. 
  • Millwright fatally injured when he was struck by a loader in a mill yard.
  • Worker died after getting lodged in the auger of a sanding truck. 
  • Cutter-skidder operator was felling a large tree and as the tree began to fall, the top broke off a nearby chicot and fatally struck the cutter. 
  • Double fatality occurred when an excavator attempted to pull a logging truck out of a ditch; it slid sideways on an incline and fatally pinned two workers standing nearby.
  • Worker fatally struck by a falling tree while clearing a path for a skidder.
  • Worker driving a tractor-trailer in dense fog collided with tanker truck and was fatally injured.
  • Skidder operator pulling logs from the bush was struck by a falling tree and fatally injured
  • Tractor-trailer collided with a pickup truck turning left off a highway, fatally injuring a young worker.
  • Worker dismounting skidder was struck by falling branch and killed.
  • Worker fatally struck by a falling tree that a skidder had been attempting to push down. 
  • Two half-ton vehicles hit head-on while travelling on a logging road, fatally injuring one worker.

Hazard Alert: Beware the danger zone

What happened?

Being struck by a tree is the number one fatal injury for conventional loggers in Ontario. In the past five years, six Ontario loggers have lost their lives after being struck by a falling chicot. Chicots – which are dead trees and limbs – are notoriously unstable and known “widow-makers” Something as small as a gust of wind, vibration from nearby equipment, or the freezing and thawing of soil, can suddenly cause a chicot to come crashing down in seconds. 

Being struck by or caught in equipment is the number one fatal injury for mechanical loggers in Ontario. In the past five years, seven Ontario loggers have lost their lives after being caught in or compressed by equipment. Fatal incidents include being hit by a flying piece of metal, being pinned by hydraulic equipment, and getting tangled in moving machinery parts. Motor vehicle incidents include being struck by a loader in a mill yard, as well as collisions on logging roads with other trucks, trailers or snowmobiles. An injury can turn fatal due to working conditions that include working alone, extreme cold, and remote locations. 

How could these incidents have been prevented?

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. These preventative measures can go a long way toward reducing the possibility of logging-related injuries and deaths.

  • Stay out of the danger zone. If you are in the danger zone of a chicot, hang-up, or freestanding tree, you’re exposed to the danger of an uncontrolled falling tree, and contravening legal requirements to remove chicot hazards. The hazard must be addressed immediately. If you are near machinery, follow company communication procedures before entering the danger zone of any machine; the system could include radio communication, but at the very least eye contact is followed by a well-understood hand signal system that clearly establishes the “stop work” rules.

  • Safely fell chicots. During harvesting, chicots must be safely lowered to the ground prior to felling in the vicinity. If a chicot is selected to remain standing for the purpose of a wildlife tree, then no trees can be harvested within its vicinity, i.e. a radius equal to at least the height of the surrounding stand.

  • Always follow proper zero energy machinery procedures, including the lowering of attachments to the ground, and where necessary blocking or supporting hydraulic equipment and attachments. Most machinery injuries occur because the equipment is not in a zero energy state. 

  • Worker certification. Chainsaw and skidder operators in a logging operation must be certified in the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development (MAESD)  mandatory Cutter Skidder Modular Training Standards course. Equipment operators must be certified in the MAESD mandatory training programs, such as Mechanical Harvesting and Forestry Pit and Road Construction. Contact WSN for assistance in getting started with pre-employment classroom training. Operators must also receive workplace specific training by their employer in all aspects of the work they perform, including policies and procedures for safe felling of problem trees and other cutting hazards that might arise when working alone. 

Safety Talk: Conventional and Mechanical Logging

All loggers face above-average workplace safety hazards

Logging continues to be the most dangerous occupation in Ontario in terms of lost-time injuries from being struck by a tree or caught in equipment. Keep in mind, statistics do not reflect all the close calls and near-misses when you’re out in the forest – sometimes the only difference between an injury and a fatality is a matter of inches. 

Regular safety talks help raise awareness and prevent injury and illness on the job. Safety talks are an informal presentation on a specific subject by a person chosen to lead the session, followed by a group discussion of the topic, how it applies in your workplace, and what it means to the people who work there. Communication is key – encourage staff to raise questions and concerns about health and safety.

Conventional Logging

  • Chicots – or dead trees – are notoriously unstable, and known as “widow-makers.” All dead trees eventually fall when they become weak enough. Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqoWXfW6W7Q
    sqoWXfW6W7Q

  • A gust of wind, vibration from equipment, heavy snowfall, or freezing and thawing soil can suddenly cause a chicot to fall. Every year, one to two Ontario forestry workers are hit and killed by a falling tree or limb.

  • If you enter a work area, or work within the danger zone of a chicot, hang-up, or freestanding tree, you are exposed to the danger of an uncontrolled falling tree, which is against the law. The Occupational Health and Safety Act requires all chicot hazards be removed prior to starting work.

  • Ontario law says all chicots in the danger zone must be safely lowered to the ground before you begin harvesting trees. If a chicot is selected to remain standing for the purpose of a wildlife tree, then no trees can be harvested within its danger zone, which is a radius equal to at least the height of the surrounding stand. Do not risk your life in your workplace. 

  • Chainsaw and skidder operators in a logging operation must be certified in the MAESD mandatory Cutter Skidder Modular Training Standards course. They must also receive workplace specific training by their employer in all aspects of the work they perform, including policies and procedures for safe felling of problem trees and other cutting hazards that might arise when working alone. Contact WSN for assistance in getting started with pre-employment classroom training.  

  • In addition to proper operator certification, employers must ensure safety procedures are being followed at all times.

  • Be vigilant around chicot danger zones. Do not risk your life in your workplace.

Mechanical Logging

  • Always wear high-visibility personal protective equipment.

  • Understand in detail how the danger zone moves while a machine with load is travelling or operating through its normal range of motion.

  • Identify all the blind spots on your machine.

  • Do not proceed with the machine through thick brush where others may be working, unless you know where they are located and you have confirmation that it’s safe to proceed.

  • Follow company communication procedures, and before entering the danger zone of any machine; the system could include radio communication, but at the very least eye contact is followed by a well-understood hand signal system that clearly establishes the “stop work” rules.

  • For most machines, a stop-work procedure means just that – stopping any movement and lowering any implements or loads to the ground before any worker on foot or other machines or vehicles can enter the danger zone. Continuous rotation blades can be stopped by pressing the blade against stumps or unmerchantable wood.)

  • Most machinery injuries occur because the equipment is not in a zero energy state. Always follow company zero energy procedures, including the lowering of attachments to the ground, and where necessary blocking or supporting hydraulic equipment and attachments.

  • Equipment operators in a logging operation must be certified in the MAESD mandatory equipment training programs, such as Mechanical Harvesting and Forestry Pit and Road Construction. Contact WSN for assistance in getting started with pre-employment classroom training. 

  • Operators must also receive workplace specific training by their employer in all aspects of the work they perform, including policies and procedures for safe felling of problem trees and other cutting hazards that might arise when working alone. 

  • In addition to proper operator certification, employers must ensure safety procedures are being followed at all times.

  • Make it your business to know and follow company danger zone rules. Remain alert at all times and respect machinery danger zones. Do not risk your life in the workplace.

Always look out for each other, and speak up about safety!

Related

Logging Safety Statistical Infographic 2-page 2017

Occupational health and safety training courses for MTCU forestry common core – WSN

Free resources

Forestry occupational health and safety statistics

Forestry-related health and safety material, including safety talks, posters, sample policies, and more.

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