............THE FOREST






“We must remember!”

I  have before me – as I write this –
the list of fatal accidents reported by the B.C. logging industry for the year 1979. The figures are appalling. They show a quite dramatic increase in fatals over 1978. In totals they read, 1978 – 47 and 1979 – 61.
....These are not statistics – they are people. Our own British Columbia people. These are unforgivable figures to many lonesome people in our pro-vince. Those lonesome people remem-ber. We must remember too.
....In the horror of world tragedies today, it is natural for most young people going about their daily routines to harden themselves to the hostage takings, the assassinations, the mass killings that are a part of the evening television news hour. And sadly, it seems that such affairs will only get more severe as the bitterness of minorities and revolutionary groups grows. We are helpless to do very much about such world tragedies. But we must not let this horror of other places dull our sense of responsibility, so needed now, to our own people.
....The figures I have quoted are from the Workers’ Compensation Board of B.C. They are the reported figures, they are not necessarily all directly attributable to an “on-the-job in an eight hour day “ accident. Included in the figures, as they have been for the twenty-five years that I know of, are those of the work force killed in air, land or sea accidents, while possibly on their way to a job. Last year eight such cases occurred. In 1978 there were three. In all these cad figures there is always a carryover of accidents that became fatal the following year.
....I state the above not to soften the blow, but to bring realism to such reports. I have heard those who would even argue with the figures saying that sometimes certain of the cases are not really “on the job” accidents. I am convinced that they are reasonably consistent down through the years and




that to question whether three or four of the cases are compensible or not is a very moot point. The figures rep-resent people – B.C. People who died because of a related accident asso-ciated with the workplace. They are still unforgivable figures.
....Words and words and words are written and said about our industrial accidents. I have spent 35 years saying those words, listening to them, writing them and reading them. The accidents are no different now, in the logging industry, than they were in 1945 except the machines involved may be different.
....A careless act by the deceased has nearly always been the major cause of death in our hazardous workplace, the forest. Looking over the description of the fatal accidents for all these years one is always shocked to see the sameness involved in the causes. The log, hooked in the middle, upended. The snag coming backwards at the faller. The vehicle going to fast. The sadness lies in the sameness of the accidents.
....There can be no doubt as to the sincerity of so many in this industry as to wanting to see a reduction in this terrible toll against life. But sincerity is not enough. Action and a change in attitudes about accident prevention will be the only answer accepted on the fatals reports in say 1990. And that attitude must change, through management and labor and from big or small, organized or unorganized.
....Accident prevention and safety have for the most part delegated to camp committees, managers and a few dedicated safety instructors who generally work apart from each other. Where there once was some form of big company safety co-ordinated training program, now the individual companies look after their own individual programs. The WCB has the only co-ordinated accident prevention teaching body in our province. But we know it is a large industry that cannot be reached by just one group. There

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British Columbia Lumberman, May, 1980

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are simply not enough people to go around. So much duplication is created this way and new men are not instructed or shown how in the same manner from company to company.
....The Council of Forest Industries once had an excellent staff of top flight safety instructors that toured the camps, put on foreman seminars and had the trust of many loggers. There was a time when the Truck Loggers Association also belonged to this group and as a result nearly all the logging camps on the coast had good instruction from good instructors on a co-ordinated consistent level. Sad to say this is not the case anymore. And it is not what that program did, but what its potential was if it had kept healthy and grew as the camps and plants grew.
....Patience is the greatest virtue of those “dedicated” to safe production. No program is ever completed, there is no ending to safety. It goes on and must always be guided by ever-better ways and means. Just as a good salesman must “Tune up” his program every so often to keep in step with the times, so must good safety instructors “tune up” their process of instruction.

....I not only feel let-down about the company policy – or lack of it on safety, but am also deeply concerned with the union’s role in safety today.
....There is still a reluctance on the part of union to “scold” or “be open” or, yes, discipline its own members who flagrantly violate safety rules. The old school tie is just as dominant here as at any old conservative school. This is not in line with the teachings of I.W.A. men like John T. Atkinson or Andy Smith, who devoted years to teaching sensible safety to their brothers. I spent some
is the great virtue
of those dedicated to safe

time on many podiums with them and sat after hours with them following a safety seminar. They were men who would not tolerate sheltering of a violation or nonsense by a manager. Where is their spirit today?
....We must remember – if we are to be so-called leaders, big or small – that we must accept the responsibility of leader-


ship. There is no one holding a knife at your back who says you must stay there.
....That leadership is faltering right now in accident prevention in our logging industry. It will not be improved by top management continuing to completely delegate safety to the “on-the-job scene.” Nor will it be accomplished by unions hollering foul.
....Let’s get rid of all these old ghosts that haunt us and make a new, sincere effort at a proper, co-ordinated safety program for this industry. The IWA and forest management have recently shown great new responsibility in labour negotiations. Some of the dis-trust is starting to wear off and let’s hope it continues.
....Now we need a meeting of the minds of the people that direct – at the top, management and union – to discuss in calmness and in trust, the serious question of today’s accident prevention programs and safe pro-duction programs. Is that trust ready to move? Can the buck still be passed to the camp level? Tune in – 1990. We must remember.
.........................Keep out of the bight,
........................................Bill Moore


British Columbia Lumberman,May, 1980  
page 47