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






‘Who Pays?’

A nyone who has followed the scene on accident prevention policies in our forest industry for some time would agree that the one phase of the subject not understood by employees nor spoken about by management to their employees, is the dollars and cents side of death and injury on the job.
....The subject of cost in dollars is spoken of by management in closed rooms. Workers Compensation asses-sments are not understood by emp-loyees because nobody has cared to discuss the subject for fear of being called mercenary, callous or too dollar conscious of human life and suffering.
....I suppose because management has been solely responsible for the financing of Workers Compensation the discussion of costs is really of no concern to employees or union. But as I write those words “no concern,” I get the feeling it shouldn’t be that way. Who pays should be important to everyone – shouldn’t it?
....The subject of who pays has bothered me greatly of late. As a logging operator, my company pays Workers Compensation Assessments. As a person, vitally interested and concerned about safe production over the past forty years, I am perplexed and annoyed at some of the practices I see taking place in our industry, which affect the real advance of safe production and the spiraling cost of accidents.
....I am going to speak about accident costs in this article because they need to be spoken about – not because I am immune to the pain and suffering of those hurt on the job.
....Life all around us, as we see it on the TV tube today – is war and pain and homeless people. Surely we can look to the battle against industrial accidents and fatals with an eye and a heart for improvement and understanding through care and through cost.
....There is still too much of a taint of


the bargaining table syndrome around in our handling of the causes and results of on-the-job accidents. There is still too much lip service paid to safety by those who hold the power in management and labor. Not that they speak it out of not caring – it’s simply that so many of them really don’t know what to do!
....Logging is a very hazardous business. Anyone who would try to mess around with that statement by soft peddling the subject is just not in the real world of logging. A moment’s forgetfulness can bring about tragic results. There is no safe logging camp for the potential lies out there in all of them, waiting for the forgetful or careless person. All logging sites are hazardous.
....I remember many years ago, talking with loggers from so-called big outfits about the advantages and disadvan-tages, safety-wise, of operating a small camp – let’s say a camp of forty persons compared to a camp of two hundred. We brought up a great many pertinent points concerning safety but the one that always impressed me the most was the ability of any camp large or small, to have a secure feeling about the place.
....Possibly ‘secure feeling’ is not the proper term, but it will have to do, for it means that the management and the work force – realizing the hazards of logging – have worked together over a length of time and have developed a self discipline that is based on caring that the job is done correctly, in a safe manner, and that sloppiness, horseplay and hangovers are not allowed on the job. Fairness is the key and that might mean that foremen drive pickups as they should be driven – carefully. It means that the workforce is informed about the job it is expected to do. And that no one is afraid or intimidated to speak up about an unsafe practice that was viewed.
....I can never remember whether large or small won the argument, for the winner could come from either if the secure feeling was there. I am happy to say I have seen it in both sizes.

....I’m sure most of you will remember the writings and talks about the Walking Wounded in certain logging camps. These were cases where the company, for want of a good written safety record, would keep a job-injured man on the payroll instead of letting him draw Workers Compen-sation benefits. It was never a popular practice, but it was tolerated and in no small way it was used. One still hears of it from time to time.
....While it was good therapy to keep a person working that could perform, it was a form of cheating for some camps looking for gold stars on their safety record.
....It would be difficult to have a secure feeling in a camp that used the ‘walking wounded’ system to show a good safety record.
....In the same sense I find the practice of sub-contracting out certain high-risk jobs of the logging camp, to avoid the true cost of Workers Compensation assessments, to be a new-found way of beating the system I refer to small groups – three or four men being given a contract as fallers and buckers – or yarding crew – and having to pay their own Workers Compensation costs. Now, I’m not speaking about legitimate falling contractors that supply a logging com-pany with fallers and saws etc. I am speaking about the newer practice of giving contracts to small groups of employees to take on the falling or yarding and loading in order to avoid having these people on the payroll in high risk jobs.
....In instances of late I have been told about three separate fatals, all in the falling category. On each occasion the company spokesman stated – “yes, we had a fatal, but he wasn’t one of our men.” Meaning he was an employee – turned small contractor – and the large company was not responsible for the costs of the accident through the W.C.B. assessments.
....In one case the employee had been


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with the company for over twenty years. He had only recently taken on a job with some fellow employees as part of a falling team. They paid their own W.C.B. assessments. He was talked about as “not our man” by the company personnel. All three cases and all different companies quoted the same phrase. I’d like to know just who the hell’s man he was – after 20 years at work!
....What has happened too often in such cases as above – if there is a serious accident of fatal – is simply that the leader of the small group cannot meet the heavy cost of such an accident. So – who pays? The rest of the industry.
....There are accidents today that can cost in excess of half a million dollars to a single person. This sum includes hospitalization, rehabilitation and pen-sion provisions. All this is paid out by the W.C.B., but is collected from the employer in the form of assessments. These assessments are based on a previous three year period of accident costs. With a good safe accident record, an employer can attain merit points and so reduce his costs considerably. Likewise, with a poor safety record his costs can increase considerably.
....W.C.B. assessments for any emp-loyer, large or small, is based on his payroll. A maximum wage level is developed for a given industry and an assessment of so much percentage of the total payroll is charged to employers in that industry.
....In the logging industry the basic assessments have increased over the past four years from a 1979 assessment of 8.8 percent of total payroll to 9 percent in 1980, to 10.8 percent in 1981, to 11.6 percent in 1982.
....A million dollar payroll is a common figure for even a twenty-five man camp these days. Figure what 11.6 percent of that amount is, for just a camp of average assessment. It is obvious that time and effort and money must be spent to develop a good safety policy that works if companies are to develop that secure feeling I spoke of.
....I’m not going to quote lengthy figure on safety and W.C.B. costs This infor-mation can be obtained from the W.C.B. The W.C.B. is a very large organization today, undergoing many changes to cope with these fast-paced times. It is criticized from all sides and no doubt rightly so at times because of its size.
....Labor continually cries that the Board is too pro-management and manage-ment feels the Board spends too much money unwisely. If ever there was a target for all comers to throw rocks at, the Workers Compensation Board is it.
And yet I know from past experience with safety people from other provinces that we have had the best form of workers Compensation in North America.
....We have a new five man board of Commissioners now who will undoub-tedly be making a lot of changes. Let us wish them well in their deliberations.
....There are many facets to the forest around us. The new technologies for wood extraction and use; the land use policies for forests; the ever difficult problems of labor and management; the

competitors product. The list of faces to this industry is varied, but none can be as important as the safety of the people who work at forestry jobs.
....The battle of truly keeping people safe and producing at the same time in a secure feeling industry will possibly never be completely won – but the challenge of working at it can never be eased up.
....By knowing more about who pays and your Workers Compensation Board, maybe you can help the cause of safer production.

Keep out of the bight,

Bill Moore