Forest fatalities on the rise

BC Forest Safety Council last week released a Safety Alert

Central Interior Logging Association

The BC Forest Safety Council last week released a Safety Alert that pointed out that we have already had six direct and three indirect fatalities in the harvesting and log hauling sector so far in 2013.

A review of the incidents shows that all of these incidents involved mobile equipment or log trucks, and there are common factors that contributed to these fatalities. Some of these investigations are still underway so specific causes can’t yet be identified. However, there are general themes that are emerging from these incidents that need to be shared within the industry.

Jan. 7 – An empty logging truck heading east on Highway 16 collided with the trailer of a loaded lumber transport truck heading west that had jack-knifed. A third transport truck collided with the accident scene. The operator of the empty logging truck later succumbed to his injuries at the Prince Rupert Regional Hospital.

April 8 – An off-highway log truck driver suffered fatal head injuries while attempting to cut two logs with a chainsaw. The two logs had fallen from the top of the load and were suspended in the binders.

April 30 – On Jan. 21, a worker fell from the tracks of a feller-buncher.

May 27 – A grader was grading uphill on a gravel road with a 10 per cent slope, preparing for a logging operation. For an unknown reason, the grader reversed out of control and proceeded down the slope backwards. It is believed that the operator exited the grader while it was travelling backwards and was subsequently crushed by the grader blade.

May 30 – The driver of a water truck backed up along a narrow section of Forest Service Road. The vehicle approached the edge of the road surface where the tire on the passenger side of the vehicle went off the road. The vehicle tipped over travelling approximately 110 metres down a 100 per cent slope where it struck a tree and fatally injured the driver.

June 11 – A worker was using a front-end loader to move a large fuel tank across a 24-per cent sloped portion of the access road to a barge landing. The machine rolled onto its side, throwing the worker out the door and resulting in fatal crush injuries.

There were also three fatalities that were related to forestry operations but involved crashes between logging trucks and the public or workers from a different industry.

How are we going to respond from the operational side? We need to be asking the “what if” questions throughout the day as a way to pick up on hazards that we may not have seen before. The BC Forest Safety Council has an abundance of resources to help employers be proactive in their risk analysis, supervision, and management practices.

As a sector, we need to increase the awareness that unsafe is still unacceptable, and that we still need to work together towards zero fatalities and injuries on the job. No log or stick of lumber is worth dying for.