For those brave souls who make their livings in the logging industry, “Timber” is a very familiar word to warn fellow workers that a tree in their area is being felled. According to NIOSH (National Institute for Safety and Health), logging has been one of the most consistently hazardous industries, with a fatality rate 23 times higher than the rate of other dangerous occupations. The Bureau of Labor statistics show that there are 81 fatalities per 100,000 workers.
According to Eric Johnson, editor of Northern Logging and Timber Processing magazine, mechanized equipment has helped to make logging safer. Loggers now often sit in steel enclosed cabs of big machines, rather than working with chainsaws on the ground. Controls send chain saws out onto tree trunks from a safer distance. Heavy machines and equipment are used to cut trees to be transported to a log mill. Logging contractors are hired by industries such as agriculture, commercial businesses, industrial plants, and government agencies, as well as individual homeowners.
Listed below are just a few of the obstacles that loggers have to contend with, according to OSHA:
- Injury from chain saws
- Working with massive weights
- Falling, rolling, sliding trees and logs
- Rough terrain
- Inclement weather
- High winds
Loggers can get crushed when trees fall in the wrong direction. Large broken branches from up in the treetops often fall unexpectedly as the trees come down. These are called “widow makers”. Medical care is often very far away, so in the event of an injury, it takes a long time to get the attention the worker may need.
Logging companies must follow OSHA regulations in great detail. Workers must be properly trained, and provided with appropriate PPE: gloves, hardhats, safety glasses, and face protection, as well steel-toe boots. Well-stocked first aid kits should be at each work location and in each worker transportation vehicle.
We give our logging workers a big “High Five”! It takes special folks to do what they do.