By Ellis Brasch
If you have been following the logging news, you might be aware of the relatively high number of workers who have died in the woods this year – there were nine fatalities by the end of August. Although four of those cases did not come under Oregon OSHA’s jurisdiction – the workers were independent contractors, had no employees, and elected not to take workers compensation insurance – the five remaining fatalities equal the number of loggers who died last year. But the long-term trend suggests that logging fatalities will remain relatively low, especially compared to the number of loggers who died in the 1980s.
What has not changed since the 1980s, however, is how loggers die: most are struck by trees, logs, limbs, or equipment. Although advances in technology and modern logging equipment have made logging safer, the injury source remains tied to the nature of the work: cutting and moving timber. And as long as loggers are needed to accomplish those tasks, safe work practices are essential to reducing the number of struck-by incidents.
These 10 Oregon OSHA rules are among those most frequently cited since 2015. They also have the highest average penalties per violation. Keep them in mind. Following them will keep your logging operation safet - and save you money, too.
Employees must be in the clear of trees, logs, root wads, chunks, rolling material, all lines, and rigging before any lines are moved; “in the clear” means “a position within the work area where the probability of hazardous contact with vehicles, machines, falling trees, moving logs, rootwads, chunks, material, rigging, and equipment is minimized by distance from the hazards or use of physical barriers, such as stumps, trees, terrain, or other objects providing protection.”
When a standing tree is used as an anchor:
Every employer must have a written safety and health program that establishes management commitment, supervisory responsibilities, accident investigation, employee involvement, hazard identification, training, and an annual evaluation of the program.
Warning signs and a flagger must be positioned in advance of active operations (or other equivalent protection must be used) on roads to control traffic where hazardous conditions are created from forest activities, such as:
Report the death of an employee or a catastrophe to Oregon OSHA within eight hours of the time the event happened. A catastrophe is an event in which two or more employees are killed, or three or more employees are admitted to a hospital or other medical facility.
Where head injuries are possible from falling or flying objects, provide and require the use of hard hats that comply with ANSI Z89 requirements for head protection. Employees working in or under a vehicle cab or canopy do not have to wear a hard hat while in, or under, the vehicle.
Employees who operate chain saws must wear flexible ballistic nylon pads, chaps, or other equivalent protection in a manner that protects their legs from the top of the thigh to the top of the boot. This does not apply to employees who work aloft in trees and are supported by climbing spurs and climbing belts.
When employers are required to provide personal protective equipment to their employees, it must be at no cost; covered PPE includes:
Employers are not required to pay for logging boots.
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For general information, technical answers, or information about Oregon OSHA services, please call 503-378-3272 or toll-free within Oregon, 800-922-2689.