Avoiding the Most Common Logging & Lumberyard Accidents

What Kind of Accidents Should You Be Aware Of?

Every year logging routinely occupies either the first or second position as the statistical winner for most dangerous profession in the United States, since more accidents resulting in injury and fatality occur in the logging industry than virtually any other.

Adding to the severity of logging injuries is the fact that when logging injuries occur, they are almost always at locations remote from professional medical care. While emergency first aid can and is administered even in such rough terrain, it often takes a considerable amount of time for an injured logger to be transported to a medical facility for proper care.

Skip down to the 4 tips to avoid logging equipment accidents

Insurance for Logging Accidents

Most logging injuries fall into known categories, and some of these can be avoided simply by observing better safety precautions, but others are largely due to the setting in which the work takes place. Some kind of lumber insurance or construction liability insurance is absolutely necessary for a company conducting a logging operation, to cover the workmen compensation claims that will inevitably result from logging injuries.

Wood insurance covers another aspect of finishing kinds of aspects in the lumber industry, such as those occurring at lumber yards, millwork manufacturers, building material dealers and distributors, and plywood manufacturers. Sawmill insurance can cover those injuries occurring at sawmills, many of which relate to the heavy equipment used at such facilities.

Falling Object Accidents

Nearly a quarter of all logging accidents are due to falling objects such as logs, limbs, and entire trees, and these have the potential to be extremely serious injuries because of the impact from such great heights. These kinds of injuries statistically have required a recovery period of 90 days or longer, and generally fall into the workmen compensation area of insurance claims. Injuries similar to falling objects, those of flying objects, involve being struck by wood chips, bark, sawdust and other objects.

Accidents of this nature can often be avoided by checking targeted cut trees for dead limbs, observing wind conditions, and clearing the fall area before cutting. Emphasizing safety precautions, especially with less experienced loggers, can make them more alert to falling object hazards.

Struck By Object Accidents

The majority of these kinds of accidents involve loggers being struck by a chainsaw during kickback, the whiplash from tree limbs and saplings, and rolling logs. These also tend to be fairly serious in nature, resulting in long recovery times for the injured loggers.

Power saw kickback can often be avoided by ensuring that the blade is sharp and will not bind during a cut; this binding action is what triggers kickback. Working on the uphill side of loose logs will avoid being struck by a rolling log.

Falls on Site

There are a great many opportunities for falls to occur on a logging site, many of which are attributed to falling off skidders, loading platforms, and logging trucks. Other kinds of falls result from stepping in holes, tripping over logs, stumps, and branches, and slipping on wet leaves or loose rock. The circumstances which lead to these falls are not always controllable, because of the terrain itself, but some falls occur when loggers are running to escape falling trees as well.

Not all falls can be avoided, because of the rugged terrain in which logging is conducted, but constant reminders about safety precautions could eliminate some of these falls. This is especially true of those falls occurring when workers are mounting or dismounting from trucks and skidders. Those falls which occur when running to escape falling trees can mostly be avoided by having the logging crew plot a better escape route for when trees fall.

Pinching and Crushing Accidents

When workers are caught between objects, for instance logs, cables, and other equipment, it’s very easy for hands, feet, or other parts of the body to become severely pinched or crushed by the weight of those objects.

The best way to avoid situations like these is to be aware of the potential for crushing accidents between two objects. This is something that should be focused on during the busiest logging season, late spring and early summer. In addition, following accepted safety practices and procedures on site will reduce or eliminate many of the possibilities for these kinds of injury.

Motor Vehicle Accidents

There are always a number of accidents annually which are related to motor vehicle operation, i.e. trucks, bulldozers, skidders, and loaders, and these cause injury to the drivers, but may also result in property damage.

Extra caution should always be observed in wet weather conditions, and motor vehicle operation is a prime area for emphasis on extra safety around a logging site. All operators should be given additional training to make them aware of the potential for accidents, and to impart a ‘safety first’ attitude at all times.

While accidents may be avoidable, it’s always in your best interest to have a backup plan just in case. Work with the experienced brokers at Allied Insurance. For over 15 years, our wood products insurance specialists have helped hundreds of clients protect their bottom line. Contact us today, and get started creating your unique solutions driven approach to ensure that your company is protected.

Top 4 Lumber Yard Safety Tips

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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.