A different approach
to safety

by: Bill Moore
....Safety, forest industry safety: as we approach the mid eighties of this cent- ury, men are still being hurt and killed in much the same manner they were in the mid-thirties. Have we really done enough in our accident prevention pro-grams over the past fifty years, or are we still using band-aid methods?
....It has been my pleasure over a span of many years to have met some very dedicated safety people in the forest industry. They range from union leaders to hooktenders, from truck drivers to presidents and from safety directors to owners. These people have fit into the mosaic pattern of our huge industry and have always been the guiding influence for our safety programs. There has only been one problem. There were never enough of these dedicated people.
....Well over a hundred men have died from on-the-job accidents in our logging sector alone in B.C. since the eighties began. These deaths only high-light the countless serious accidents that have crippled and maimed so many others. And they come at a time when our industry was employing far fewer people than in the busy seventies.
....The record still shows the same style of fatals and accidents. The high risk jobs and areas, such as power saw falling, or rigging men in landings and on sidehills or machine operators on steep slopes. In any given year these jobs and areas will account for the majority of serious accidents and fatals.
....Praise must be given to the many ex-cellent camp and mill safety committees in our industry that have never let up on
their efforts to investigate and discuss unsafe acts and machine failures and counter them with intelligent programs that prevent future accidents. The joint management-union camp or mill safety committees are the very backbone of our accident prevention programs.
....A good safety committee is success-ful for several reasons. The make-up of most or all of the committee will be people who are willing to step just a little farther than the rest in preventing accidents. Safety committees are one of the really serious areas of real union-management co-operation based on the needs of both parties. The safety committee nearly always has a manage-ment boss or near boss on it as a member, who is able to answer direct questions about the company’s actions regarding safe work practices.
....In November of ’81 in the B.C. Lumberman I wrote an article entitled: “Safety – a Ray of Hope.” The article related the gathering together of repre-sentatives from the Workers’ Com-pensation Board and various manage-ment and union people. They met in Nanaimo with the intent of establishing a set of standardized methods for the training of fallers throughout the coastal area of B.C. Many meetings were held over nearly three years and input was delivered from some very responsible people in the industry and from the WCB. It was felt that if good progress could be made with sensible standards for the training and practice of falling and bucking, then other hazardous areas and occupations could likewise
be tackled.
....One could say the approach was quite a large step up from the camp or mill safety level. Involved were union leaders, logging managers, safety super-visors and ranking WCB people. To date, the meetings have not met with the success hoped for by the original participants. Frustrations arose when some companies felt that their own safety policies and training were simply better than those proposed by the findings of the “Nanaimo Group.”
....Unquestionably, good intent lay behind the efforts of all – but standard-ization could not be agreed upon. Let us hope that some event may happen that will help them resolve their prob-lem, for their cause is a very worthy one.
....I have mentioned before in safety articles that where the industry was once on the way to standardized safety instruction through the Council of Forest Industries and the Truck Log-gers Association, this no longer exists. Individual companies have opted for their own safety programs, and the excellent team of logging safety inst-ructors who were assembled in the mid sixties under Scotty Allison were gradually retired and no new young replacements were brought in.
....This group of top notch instructors ranged up and down our coast. They conducted various types of camp sem-inars, job studies, foreman lectures and landing safety talks. They visited the large and the small camps and they began a splendid safety era that ended

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far too soon. Logging safety took a large step backward when this en-deavor was allowed to degenerate and I’m sure we are paying some of the consequences today.
....No forest company, large or small, is an island when it comes to safe pro-duction. If we are ever to have a safer industry, it will come about, not by one company achieving high safety such results.
....As it is now, we have some com-panies with fine records and others with all degrees from good to poor. We have many who show absolutely no desire to really work at safe pro-duction except when a compensation inspector comes around. And these visits can often be far apart because of the broad geography of the industry and the continuing need for more inspectors.
....It bears repeating – compensation inspectors won’t bring safe production, instant or otherwise. They can only do their job, and from what I’ve seen, they do it well despite their handicap.
....Safety is as elusive as a shadow, as difficult to hang onto as a cloud and as hurtful as a sledgehammer. No one has an option on it, or ever will have, as long as men’s brains forget even for a second.
....Yet, I have never heard anyone in this industry talk about a real long range view of our safety programs. We do such things with our reforestation programs, our machinery programs and our five and ten year logging plans. There are enough graphs and maps on the walls of logging company engi-neering offices to keep a paper mill going, but I have yet to hear anyone suggest how a ten year forecast of accident prevention would look, or the projected costs of such a thing.
....Accident costs today are enormous and ever growing. One hears heated discussion everywhere about the causes. I am not entering into that discussion at this writing because I firmly believe that the one sure and realistic way to bring down these ever increasing costs is to have a better accident prevention program in our industry.
....But it is not good enough that just a few companies pay attention to their safety programs. All must – because we are all charged on the same account. True, the companies that have excellent records get help from a merit system,
as well they should. But the basic rates apply to all, and it is in the interest of the excellent to also see to it that the laggards pull up their britches and really work at safety.
....There are many different areas of logging in our province. The coast terrain is different from much of the interior, and often the methods differ. But as long as loggers use chain saws and logging trucks and loaders and skidders and tractors, there is a com-mon denominator in safe production that can and ought to be adhered to.
....I don’t believe we can afford to continue with our old safety ideas of each one trying on his own. And I don’t believe that a third party such as our Workers’ Compensation Board can act as teacher to loggers or mill men. This is no slur on the WCB or its capable field people.
....I believe that we in this industry have reached a maturity where the two concerned parties involved in safety can handle their own accident prevention programs right from the top. If it will work at camp level, then it should work from on high. And I believe such programs can be affordable, and most important of all, save accidents and lives. I would therefore present for your thoughts the following:
....A new accident prevention asso-ciation should be formed called The British Columbia Forest Accident Prevention Association. It could follow these guidelines:
....1. The board of directors should be made up equally of management and the union and be chaired alternately by one or the other each year.
....2. for the present time the association should confine its guidelines to the logging and milling portion of the industry where the accidents and fatalities are most prevalent.
....3. A staff of instructors well versed in the various phases of logging and milling should be set up and stationed at strategic towns or areas in the province, dependent on a forest economy. The head office of the association should be situated in Vancouver.
....4. The association should have a well chosen manager. He should be a highly qualified administrator, not necessarily a “safety man.” He should have a good grasp of B.C.’s forest industry.
....5. The WCB should abandon its role in accident prevention and confine itself
to claims and rehabilitation. It would, of course work closely with the new association.
....6. The project should be funded two thirds by management and one third by union.
....7. Individual companies should retain their own accident prevention departments that would co-ordinate with the new association.
....8. The B.C. government should make joining such an organization compulsory for all logging and milling companies. In this manner those com-panies outside of the organized asso-ciations, such as COFI and many others, would also contribute toward a safer industry with their dues.
....I’m sure there will be union people who will not feel it is their place to contribute money to such an asso-ciation, saying it is the employers’ place to pay for accident prevention. I would remind them that loggers once paid into the WCB. If it’s promoted with a mature attitude, it can be emphasized that it is the logger’s life at stake and he should be aware that he is paying dues to procure for himself the best accident prevention program in North America run by his union and his management.
....Some employers will possibly feel such an association is just another cost burden to already heavy costs. I say, “Who better than our top people in management and union to directly guide the cause of accident prevention in our very hazardous logging and milling industry?”
....There can be no bargaining tactics used in such a group, for such an association must be entered into in trust and with the knowledge that both management and union are motivated by need.
....We must be a more conscious in-dustry and we must become a safer industry if we are to expect intelligent young people to want to work in our industry.
....A British Columbia Forest Accident Prevention Association could give us a safer industry – and it could be affordable.

Keep out of the bight,

Bill Moore