The discipline of safety


by Bill Moore....

....“Take care, and watch out, don’t think the accident happens to everyone else, it doesn’t. and don’t get bored in those safety meetings. Listen Because they could help. That’s the advice I could give you because I learned it the hard way. Hope to see you all soon.”
....This is part of a letter written to a logging camp crew from a 23 year old logger who had lost his leg, near the hip, in a most serious logging accident last spring. His chance of life after a 200 mile journey by air, when finally reaching Vancouver and the General Hospital, was two per cent. He was administered 28 blood transfusions. It was close – and thank god he survived.
....The accident happened in a landing, the young man being caught too close to a log when the counterweight of a log loader swung around. I will not go into the details of this tragedy except to say that it was a very traumatic time for all concerned – his family, the logging crew and the management.

....The year 1978 will probably show a higher fatality record in our B.C. woods than any year since 1973. No doubt there will be much soul sear-ching and renewed serious thought given on how to prevent accidents and fatals in our forest industry.
....Like many others I have spent a good many years deeply involved in accident prevention matters and pro-grams. And like a good many others, I’ve felt the frustrations and traumas when things don’t go as planned. But then safety-accident prevention is not quite the same as planning for next year’s roads or new machines or quota.
....We have advanced in some ways in our safety programs and yet in others we seem stymied. It’s the nature of the beast – this thing called the human being – to not always use the wonderful machinery of his brain. And when you’re a logger and you forget and get careless you are in a haz-ardous position.


....I have seen in both B.C. and Ontario and for that matter in northern Europe the popular use of protective clothing, ear and eye protection, safety shoes and all manner of bright high-vis clothing. We have indeed come a long way in this field – thanks to intelligent manufacturers and a work force that has used these goods.
....There is no question the above safety articles, along with many others, have helped our programs a great deal. Just recall the war surplus rain gear we used to wear in the 1950s with its dark green camouflage and you would wonder how anybody could be spotted in the woods. Now it’s orange hats, bright yellow rain clothes and red vests. Now the logger looks like a Christmas tree, which is just right, thank you.
....Another plus in our safety programs has been in the design of machinery – toward its safer use. Better guarding of

Fatals take
terrible toll

gears, drums, or moving parts. Better soundproofing of cabs and exhausts. Better braking systems and better maintenance of machines have all contributed to our safety programs. There is no question that the machinery manufacturers have listened and heeded the voices of industry and safety people across the land.
....So it brings us to the human being and his progress in accident prevention. A progress that has been slow – too slow for those many concerned people who care about the safety of others.
Words, words, and more words are written on this vital subject. Speeches, seminars, counseling, rap sessions, are spoken across this land in every forested area. Signs, contests, statistics are used everywhere. Safety days or weeks are held and flags are flown and


cups are won. But the tragedies go on.
....This is not to sat the above must be abandoned or changed, for in their own way all the above methods are needed and will continue to be needed for time to come.
....As an industry we are better trained in the use of machinery and we have far improved systems of getting the logs from the forest to the mill site. We are better than we were. But we still forget from time to time the hazardous surroundings we are faced with. We have not developed enough discipline as an industry.
....I believe, after all these years, the lack of discipline – in its true sense – is what is killing our people and causing hurt, anguish and high costs to the forest industry.
....It is a word that was often taken in its wrong context by a lack of under-standing on the part of some manage-ment. And it is a word that is too often used by the old guard unionists as “unfair to fellow workers.”
....Well I’ve seen and known a lot of poor managers (be they foremen, charge hands or what) in my years in the woods. These types should never have managed people. To them discipline is something like the old strap used to be in school – “It’s gotta hurt to be good.” Far too many work force people have been “turned off” safety by remarks or the stupid actions of the managing people. This industry until recently was not noted for training its managing types (again foremen, charge hands etc.) to properly manage. I think if you don’t manage correctly you don’t manage safely. Little wonder then the friction between a work force and the managing types that has plagued this industry from its birth.
....Logging being the isolated work it is, unlike the assembly line or saw mill etc., has naturally been a much more difficult industry to properly manage. It continues to be difficult to properly communicate in the industry – but it is unquestionably better than it was.

page 68  
British Columbia Lumberman, January, 1979

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....On management’s side we will have to be more sure than we ever were that managing types are better trained to handle the needs of a work force. When this is achieved we will start to attain a new discipline based on common sense, understanding and a sense of caring for those who work under their guidance.
....Union leaders are going to have to convince their members – and I sup-pose non-members – that if infractions are committed by a member of the work force, the act must not go unpublished in some form. The old feeling about not to squeal on your fellow worker is sheer bunk when it comes to saving people’s lives or pre-
venting an accident. And yet the feeling is still strong in the work force’s mind.
....We don’t need new committees or new seminars to understand the word discipline better. Top – the very top management – will have to spend a bit more time with their managing types to really impress this need of better trained bosses on the job. Better trained foremen, charge hands, hook-tenders, whatever their titles be – if they are to oversee a job – must do it better, safer and use sensible disci-plinary actions.
....Whether or not we go back to 50 fat- als in B.C.’s forest industry, I know not at this writing. We will be close from what I am told. That is a ter

terrible toll to take from our people.
....Whether or not what I write is right or wrong doesn’t matter, but some-thing will have to be done by those in charge of this industry – management and union. If not, the government laws will have to get stricter. Is that what we need? Can’t we do it without new laws?
....The forest around us is for all the people – to enjoy, to learn from and to hand on to their children. It must not take the toll from our people it has taken in the past.

Keep out of the bight,
Bill Moore


British Columbia Lumberman, January, 1979
page 69