........Comment by Bill Moore

...The forest around us

Lest we forget 1971 – ‘75

....Handling nitro-glycerine is a safe occupation if you know how and if you don’t forget the rules.

....All logging occupations are safe – if you know how – and if you don’t forget the rules.

....From the beginning of 1971 to the end of 1975 – a five year period – 245 loggers died from accidents in the logging industry of British Columbia. These tragic figures are compiled by the Workers compensation Board of B.C. They would have been higher in 1975 if the industry had not been closed down due to industrial strikes.

....The figures for 1976 are not complete at this writing, but I hesitate and fear their truth in light of quite a full logging year.
....So these are the statistics – plain, painful and odious. They do not stand out as they would if we personally knew every person or the families of the deceased.
....Tragedy and death are daily news to us all in this day of instant media. One death can take over the headlines in a newspaper. And one death can bring on enquiries costing millions of dollars. But, a famine in a far off land receives momentary mention.
....We are the modern day people – able to cope, easily forgetful of others’ problems. We are hardened. But, of course, we are more prone to opting out. Nervous breakdowns and the need for psychiatric help are greater than they were for our fathers.
....We are tough, or why else would we accept 245 deaths in B.C.’s num-ber one industry that accounts for half our income. If 50 people per year died in airplane crashes in B.C. all aircraft

would be grounded pending an inves-tigation. We understand something about planes and pilots and fog and runways. We, the public, ride on airplanes, we are informed, and the media is on top of every incident when even a small plane comes down. We understand this aircraft industry because we are personally involved with it. No mystique there.
....But there is a mystique to the log-ging industry. This lack of under-standing of what really happens in the woods is not too difficult to under-stand. The public isn’t that interested, because the industry is complex, widespread, and differs from location to location. It is not a simple aircraft!

....And it is not going to get any easier to describe. How do you tell people about the tangle of limbs and brush and felled trees that a logger must crawl or walk through each day at his job. Remember you are not describing mountain climbing when you talk of loggers working on steep slopes or in rocky canyons. Describe if you can – so everyone understands – the problems of a log truck driver on steep grades or of a faller power-sawing down a heavy leaning, 800 year old, eight-foot diameter cedar tree in a jungle of trees.
....The enlightened know of these hazards to the complex occupation of logging. The enlightened are the few – most loggers themselves, logging safety
supervisors, WCB inspectors, the involved people – understand about the 245 fatals in the first five years of the 1970s and they quite under-standably work to lower those out-rageous figures. It’s a task that tries people’s minds very hard. For you can never let up – there is disappointment,

despair and bitterness at the tragedy of each fatal. To care about the safety of people working in hazardous terrain – spread out over thousands of acres – is not a job for the weak. It is a job for intelligent, thoughtful people who do understand the mystique.

....And all we can do, it seems, is hold our own. Fifteen years of automation and modern logging methods have not helped put down the death toll.
....The modern power saw with its new lightness and flexibility is the single machine involved with more fatals than any other machine in the woods today. One third of the 50 fatals each year are connected to that modern little machine that was invented to help the logger.
....As logging trucks were made bigger and bigger they were made easier and easier to drive through the invention of automatic transmissions. The result is that drivers don’t need the experience to drive anymore, they only need the experience to live.

....How then to do better than to just hold the line with fatals? How can we impress the loggers themselves that the woods can be safe – that 50 men do not have to die each year? What more can the involved do than they have been doing to lower the tragedies? If the mystique can finally be presented to the public, can they in turn do anything? These are the problems of accident prevention that many dedicated people in this industry try so hard to solve. We know now – after the years of holding the line – there is no quick answer, no magic formula. But, we must keep trying and we must succeed or those statistics are a mockery to modern machines and a

British Columbia Lumberman, January, 1977  
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modern world.
....Like a lot of others I feel deeply involved in those 245 fatals. They were a part of the industry I have spent my life in. And I, like the other involved ones, still here, want to be assured that every path is tried to reduce those fatals.
....One path that has not been tried is a concerted, all out, top management and top union campaign on fatals. A campaign not unlike a Cancer Drive or a Heart Fund or a Crippled Children’s Drive. A campaign where first off, the top leaders of our biggest forest com-


panies join forces with our top union leaders, putting all past problems aside, and dedicatedly state that they will jointly work together for the achievement of fewer fatals.”
....These men can draw upon re-sources that are not available to the average dedicated person in safety. They attract the media to a project by their very presence. They have all the safety advisory brains in North America at their disposal to give them the information they need to jointly make recommendations.
....True, all accidents and fatals don’t

just happen to big companies, nor are all the men who die from accidents in the woods union members. But that does not matter. It is the industry that has the black mark of those 245 deaths in five years, and like others involved, they must reach out beyond themselves if a life can be saved.
....Careless acts, on the part of loggers, happen continuously in our woods. That is no condemnation of the logger. It is a hazardous industry! The mind must be alert and ready to react to danger. There must be a conscious-ness of these hazards. Logging con-tains many young inexperienced peo-ple today. It also contains many oldtimers who have come through so many close shaves they don’t believe their time will ever come. Like all gatherings of people, logging has its intelligent ones, its foolhardy ones, its commonsense ones, its worried ones, its part-time ones, and its plain good ones. Like anywhere else in the world it contains very few perfect people.

....The campaign, presented as outlined, could give the industry and the public a far greater awareness of the hazards loggers work under. By alerting the families of loggers, school children and all the public of this province, we will reach the average logger with more emphasis on his safe working habits than is now being done.
I am not talking of awards or rewards or contests or of any particular plan. That would be up to the campaign committee people to design. I would again emphasize that without the direct involvement of top management and union – and their mutual desire to make the campaign successful – the plan would have little hope. For these are the people who attract attention in our papers and on our televisions. Their advice and reactions are sought after.
....Yes., there could be another way. Negotiate safety – down to the last dotted eye in a master agreement. Fight for it. Strike for it. Lockout for it.
But that is the second best way. If these people haven’t come to realize you can’t negotiate safety, then they haven’t looked at the statistics from the Workers Compensation Board. We’ve held the line, that’s all.
....Think about it – please – the situation needs positive and intelligent attention.

...............In memoriam,

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British Columbia Lumberman, January, 1977