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






“Safety and the Negotiating Table”

A lot of words have been written on
the subject of logging safety and words upon words have been spoken. I have read and written a lot – as well as listened and spoken – and I am still and always will be frustrated and angry that loggers must be victims of so many serious accidents and fatals.
....Fort anyone not familiar with logging or logging camp life and its day-to-day work, the business of logging is filled with a mystique. It is an occupation that really cannot be as simply understood as that of a miner, a fisherman or a farmer. Those occupations have always been well publicized and visible. Logging has rarely been shown on film or in a novel in its true atmosphere. It has a mystique that even film makers or novelists have difficulty portraying.
....Logging has always been a hazardous occupation and will continue to be as along as there are people and machines working in felled and bucked forests. Coastal B.C. logging is possibly more hazardous than the interior of B.C. because of the size of trees and generally rougher terrain. However the interior, or the rest of Canada’s forest industry has not been able to cope with all the facets of accident prevention.
....The chain saw is a good example of the hazards of our logging industry (B.C.L. May ’78). While more and more trees are felled in Canada by giant tree felling machines, still nearly one third of the accidents and fatals find the invol-vement of a chain saw.
....It is not just a question of how lethal a chain saw is in the hands of an inexperienced worker, but also of the saw combined with the hazards of simply getting around in the tangle of brush and felled and bucked, which adds to the danger of this very violent machine.
....However the figure of nearly one third should not be surprising in light of


the American consumer rate of acci-dents – not associated with logging. Every year over 100,000 chain saw users are injured by saws in the U.S.A., mostly in backyard chores. Little wonder so many are injured in logging accidents. The chain saw is a deadly instrument, as is a logging truck or a log loader or an earthmover if it is not handled correctly or if someone comes too close to it when the oper-ator is unable to see them.
....Machinery is built well these days – but not perfectly. Machines get old and require maintenance. Accidents cannot be blamed on machines, for man ope-rates them, supervises them and repairs them.
....There seems to be a rather heavy discussion these days about who to blame for so many accidents and fatals in the logging industry. The subject of accident prevention is talked about as going to the negotiating table this spring. I keep reading where the I.W.A. leaders say that a worker cannot be blamed for the accident that happens to himself. Management is talking louder about the need for disciplining workers who continually act in an unsafe manner.
....It should be remembered that for a good many years safety was the only real co-operative program between management and labour in our woods. A lot of people worked hard to get it that way. Let’s not undo that work with emotions that only cloud the issue of real safety.
....For those that live and work in logging camps from day to day and are in contact with injuries – near misses, macho talk, good safety committees, dedicated first aid men – the subject of safety is the reality of their days work.
....Generally speaking, the larger camps have had the advantage of a better organized safety policy. With more people available to supervise the safety scene, those camps have done a pretty


good job.
....Smaller camps may not get the benefit of as many visits from W.C.B. inspectors as do larger ones, due to their numbers and remoteness. And it should be remembered that many of the larger companies “contract out” their logging, or part of it, and do not show the full exposure that, say, a small camp would show. The con-tractor, large or small, will have his own arrangement with the Workers Compensation Board and naturally not show in the larger companies frequency rates.
....I have spoken and written, with feeling, through the years, of companies that achieve a fine safety record. I say excellent and well done – but now go out and help those less fortunate. Where once this industry was on the verge of co-ordinated safety programs, now, for some reason, each company has their own program. In an industry where in many places, men still move from camp to camp, this seems hard to reconcile.
....Possibly it’s time to throw out awards and prizes and get down to a more serious approach to logging safety. There is possibly just too much emphasis on competition and not enough “for the good of all” spirit.
....We are by nature a competitive people – we are brought up that way, and it has brought us a great standard of living. But if we are looking for new answers to our safe productive progress, we had better look at every aspect. I am sure the competitive system, as we are using it, might leave something to be desired.
....This discussion of discipline keeps coming up and I would like someone to point out just exactly what they are talking about. Here is a subject that could fan the embers of emotions so much at the negotiating table as to halt proceedings. What discipline? For what offence? – Possibly unsafe acts

34  ·  British Columbia Lumberman  · March, 1981

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four times, or five times? How much discipline? Being fired – sent home – What?
....Just like there could be careless work persons in the logging industry – there could be careless or inex-perienced managers in industry also. Remember – there’re a lot of outfits. This point alone makes the question of a negotiated discipline policy a very difficult one. It is doubtful if any union leader would condone such a practice.
A camp manager – or whatever name the boss of the job goes by – must be a lot of things to a lot of people – but he is not on a school-principal-student relationship with all the people he supervises. While the majority of managers may be able to sensibly cope with discipline issues, there are some that could not, out of sheer inexperience.
....I believe top management would be putting their managers in jeopardy by asking for an across the board disciplining allowance against careless workers.
....There are careless people in our industry who do not watch what they are doing. They have to be handled in special ways. They are a burden on any management, but they can be handled by sensible, consistent management at camp level without the issue of discipline going to the negotiating table.
....The issue of a union leader stating that the worker cannot be blamed for his own accident is a bit more complicated than it sounds.
....We know that the fatals endured by this industry over its history contain the story of the same repeated accident causes – chiefly, “a careless act.”
....A “careless act” is not to be confused with a careless person. A “careless act” happens to the most experienced of loggers as well as the new worker. Is there anyone who has not committed a careless act? Speeding is a careless act, jay walking is a careless act, as is lifting a heavy weight the wrong way, yet people everywhere commit these acts daily in spite of a thousand warnings.
....The issue of “blame” is not really going to get us anywhere if we want to improve safety in logging. It is the careless act – one moment of forgetfulness – that generally accounts for tragic fatals. It is the need for alertness and common sense, a real “self discipline” that must be taught and repeated and repeated. How to teach it, in light of all the good safety programs, is what is needed.
....In my years in this industry I have met some very dedicated, safe, production people, in a variety of camps


and places. The industry has never wanted for such people, there simply has never been enough of them. And while the leaders of the industry – both union and management – have always wanted a safer industry and were very aware of that need, I don’t believe they always knew how to go about getting it.
Safety cannot be negotiated – it is a truly gut issue attached to production that is only attained by sound, consistent, trusting, well directed energy. Money won’t buy it – all the prizes in the world won’t bring it to you or your company. It is obtainable – but it is elusive.

Just as
a good manager
and willing crew
can make a
poorly organized camp produce,
so, union
and management
can improve
industry’s safety

....Just as a good manager – with the co-operation of a willing crew – can take over a poorly organized camp and with hard work and consistency turn the place into an organized, safer work place, so, I believe, the leaders of this industry – management and union – can



with unanimity of purpose improve this industry’s overall safety performance.
....A concerted effort is needed to better bring into focus, for people in our logging industry and the public, the tragedy of our large number of fatals and serious accidents.
....It is certainly time to stop the defensive attitudes on both sides and for the leaders to closet themselves together and determine how to get to the root of our safety problems.
....The issue needs widespread reporting without laying blame or penalty of discipline. It needs open discussion as to hazards that loggers face daily in the woods. Only through a top level committee of management and union can the issues be sensibly discussed and expert advice sought.
....Patience and trust will be the main ingredients of such a group, for no safety program ever worked overnight. With a wealth of expertise from the Workers’ Compensation Board people and the intelligent, dedicated safety supervisors already in the field of management and union, there just has to be progress.
....It is time to stop the competition – as it is time to stop being defensive about logging safety. The issues are not for the bargaining table, they are for complete co-operative effort. The winner is everyone.

.Keep out of the bight,

Bill Moore
British Columbia Lumberman  · March, 1981  ·  55