Because safety is a top priority, and a lot can change in a short period of time, we’ve collaborated with one of our favourite resources again to highlight some important points to consider when putting together a safety plan for your operation.

Working in the woods is physically demanding and dangerous work. Things can happen really fast. If you don’t know what you’re doing, or you’re not in good shape, you could get hurt. It’s important to tailor a safety plan that works for you, your property and your operation.

BC Faller Training Standards

If you plan to be anywhere near a chainsaw, it’s a good idea to read the BC Faller Training Standards (an updated version of the Fallers’ and Buckers’ Handbook) produced by WorkSafe B.C.

Take it with you into the woods even before you plan to cut. Check out the trees in your stands and look for some of the potential danger situations described. Spend the time to think out the steps involved in felling specific trees and how you would handle different situations.

Know when to ask questions and when to ask for help. Seek out advice and be ready to learn—from people with more experience, from special reference materials and from your own experiences.

General Safety Tips for Forest Workers

  • Know basic first-aid. At minimum, carry a whistle and a pressure bandage and know how to stop bleeding and treat shock.
  • Consider taking the one-day Level 1 Occupational First-Aid course (time well spent!).
  • Always let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to return. Leave a note in your vehicle if your plans change.
  • Carry a communication device with you. Check in frequently with someone who knows where you are.
  • Ideally, don’t work alone. Have a buddy with you.
  • It’s always a good idea to wear hard hats and high-visibility vests when you’re in the woods.
  • Never approach a working machine until you’re certain the operator can see you.
  • Fatigue, adverse weather conditions, poor visibility, inexperience and poor communication are frequently contributing factors to injuries in the woods.

Remember: safety is a state of mind. Your attitude and your actions are important.

Be alert. Be prepared. Be careful.

See below for the basic equipment of a safe (and long-lived) woodland operator.

Hiring a crew to do the harvesting for you?

Poor log markets, over the past several years, had a devastating effect on B.C.’s local workforce. A lot of experienced and qualified contractors were forced to leave the business. The result is a potential shortage of workers and equipment available to meet an increased demand for harvesting activity.

Statistics show incidents of injuries rise as markets pick up after a period of inactivity and a new crop of inexperienced workers step up to meet the renewed demand for harvesting. Given this set of circumstances, it’s more important than ever for forest owners to be diligent about a safety plan for their operation.

Make it a priority to have a conversation with your contractor about safety and certification.

In British Columbia, it’s a legal requirement for manual tree fallers in forestry operations to be trained and certified. The BC Forest Safety Council is the certifying body that ensures competency standards and an appropriate level of experience.

When you’re hiring a contractor, look for a certified faller and a certified crew. Once you’ve chosen your contractor, have a pre-work meeting to walk and review the site with your contractor. Point out any potential hazards, for example:

  • Old gravel pits
  • Mine shafts
  • Unstable slopes
  • Dead snags

Be sure to share any and all information that might impact the safety of the operation.

Public safety is your responsibility.

You’re responsible for the public’s safety on your property. If you have trails, roads, public access or any other potential for people—dog walkers, horseback riders, mountain bikers, star-crossed lovers—to access your operating area you need to take steps to keep them safe.

  • Close trails
  • Lock gates
  • Post signs
  • Be alert
  • Notify your contractor of any area used by the public

Who’s excited for more safety information?

If we whet your appetite for more safety information, there’s good news!

Ron Judd (WorkSafe BC) will present at PFLA’s forestry conference (June 2nd, 2016)

With decades of experience investigating what went wrong and what factors contribute to injuries, accidents and fatalities, Ron Judd brings a wealth of knowledge, information and insights to share with forest owners and operations managers. We look forward to welcoming him.

As always, a big thanks to Managing Your Woodlands: A Non-forester’s Guide to Small-scale Forestry in British Columbia for the parts excerpted above.