Operating a logging company or one that handles wood products comes with a significant potential for loss and harm to your employees. This loss and harm can result from the improper use of heavy equipment necessary for your operations, or accidents that may or may not be the fault of your employees. Lumber insurance companies provide you with ways to mitigate some of the financial loss associated with logging equipment accidents. The types of products they provide include sawmill insurance, wood insurance and suggestions for safety training programs designed to increase awareness and promote the safe operation of heavy equipment.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and the Health of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the logging industry experienced a fatality rate for the period 1980-89 that was more than 20 times higher than that for all workers in the United States. Information provided through the National Traumatic Occupational Facilities Surveillance System found that of those fatalities that occurred in the logging industry, 59 percent involved falling and flying objects as well as being caught between objects. Ninety percent of those fatalities involved trees, logs, snags and limbs.
There are at least four things for you to consider that may help you avoid common logging equipment accidents. These tips are in line with those found in OSHA regulations 29 CFR 1910.266(i), including the full implementation of a safety training program, the assignment of work areas, protective equipment, job-site inspections and more.
- Implementation of Required Safety Training Programs
One of the ways you avoid logging equipment accidents is through the documentation of written safety training programs, as required by OSHA and the presentation of safety information to your workers on a periodic basis. The training program that you design should reflect current thinking regarding safety approaches to logging and reinforce fundamental principles that should be a regular and consistent part of your business practices. Written documentation should be maintained and disseminated to employees, as well as updated as frequently as required when new regulations and industry-based safety techniques are announced.
- Assign Work Areas that are Non-Adjacent to Occupied Areas
Another way to reduce the number of logging accidents that may occur is to keep areas where cutting activities take place segregated from non-logging areas. OSHA rule 29 CFR 1910.266(d)(6)(ii) requires that work areas be established so that trees are not able to fall into an occupied work area that is adjacent. OSHA rules establish a distance between adjacent occupied work areas of at least two tree lengths from the trees that are being felled. Additional considerations must be taken into account for the slope, growth density, height of the trees, soil structure and any other foreseeable hazards that may require the distance to be greater than two tree lengths.
- Provide Necessary Protective Equipment
Providing protective equipment for your workers helps mitigate against potential loss from your employees when working on a logging site. Protective equipment includes the use of gloves, eyewear, steel-toed work boots, helmets and other equipment that enhances worker safety. Additional protective equipment includes blade guards for saws that should be used when felling trees. If you do not make it a regular practice to require protective clothing and equipment as part of your logging operation, you open yourself to the potential for huge loss when accidents occur on the job site. A helmet and eyewear may be the difference between a worker sustaining a life-threatening injury and being able to walk away from an event because they were protected from flying debris.
- Survey and Inspect Job Sites Daily for Potential Hazards
You should implement a plan for daily inspections of your logging job site. These inspections are a valuable tool in helping you limit and avoid any potential accidents from occurring. The purpose of the inspections is to thoroughly survey the site in order to determine the potential for hazards, which may result in an accident and loss for your company. Conducting a daily hazard inspection should become a part of your routine and can provide a valuable preventative tool in reducing loss.
These tips should not only help your company avoid certain logging equipment activities that may occur on the job site but also lower your insurance loss. It is incumbent upon you as an owner and/or operator of a logging company to take all of the steps necessary to minimize loss and risks, as well as increase safety for your workers.
As long standing members of the Wood Products Manufacturers Association, the award-winning wood products team at Allied Insurance Brokers understand what it takes to minimize your exposure. Our solutions-driven approach to insurance can help your wood products company mitigate risk and improve your bottom line. Let’s start the conversation about managing your risk on the worksite. Contact us today!
*Allied does not deem this blog entry as a complete and thorough listing or overview of the above topic, and does not recommend it be primarily relied on. It only highlights some common issues and resolutions. For a thorough overview, please contact Allied’s Risk Engineering Division.