Sad waste

....There were 26 fatals in the logging sector of the forest industry in B.C. in 1984. comparing these sad figures to 10 or 20 years ago, one could say there has been improvement. But unfortunate-ly that would not necessarily be the case.
....It is difficult to estimate how many loggers are out of work due to the recession, and the continuing automation of the industry. But, it would be reason-

able to say there are 30 percent less loggers – union and non-union – work-ing today than there were 10 years ago.
....In 1975 36 loggers lost their lives in work related accidents. It therefore does not speak too well of any great progress made in our accident pre-vention programs over the 10 year period. While it is always difficult to use such comparisons with exactness, we must never-the-less keep tuned in to judging our performance in this hazardous industry.
....My assertion is we have not made progress in our accident prevention programs commensurate with the prog-ress we have made in our logging meth-ods. There are reasons, and I would like to try to point them out.
....When we look back on the 60 or 70 year history of the logging industry in B.C. – or in Canada – one of the items that stands out too clearly is the waste of fibre in the form of excessive slash, careless logging, uncontrolled burns and badly planned operations.
....This waste, I believe, is to a large part responsible for our attitudes toward the human waste in accidents and fatals that has plagued our industry down through the years.
....Because of the very nature of log-ging, the operation does not lend itself to factory style safe production methods.
....Every hill and valley is different and every problem with a log or tree is different. Safe production in the logging industry is based on ever constant awareness – not posters, guard rails or color coding. The workplace has no

reasons, but I would place at the top of the list the trend toward the sub-contracting of fallers in preference to a day rate.
....Over 10 years ago a faller’s “day rate” was finally agreed to by forest industry negotiations that put a stop to contracting practices.
....It had been felt that contracting was accountable  for so  many of  the fallers’

....Costs of falling went up with the ad- vent of day rate, and as we moved on to the ‘80s a bit different form of contracting reappeared that offered the companies a better supervised falling and bucking program at less cost. Falling is one of the most difficult jobs in the woods to supervise properly, and it can and has been one of the most wasteful of occupations in the hands of inexperienced or careless fallers. It should be noted that in the 1984 death toll to fallers, the so-called speed-up practice of “Domino Falling” was linked to about half of the fallers’ fatals. This practice of cutting up a number of trees and then falling one tree into their midst to knock the entire group over could better be called “Suicide Falling” because of the uncontrolled actions of the trees as they fall.
....The training of loggers – all occupations – has always been an on-the-job performance. While there has been a bit of schooling involved in later years, it is just too difficult to substitute a forest’s natural setting into a class-room, or to really get the feel of the job from pictures.
....This means that the instruction most loggers have received has come from a wide variety of “teachers-on-the-job” – very few with diplomas! And many lack the ability to convey proper oral instructions.
....Possibly no other industry in the world has continually brought into being a work force as poorly instructed as the people of our logging industry. It is to the credit of the intelligent and the dedi-
by: Bill Moore
roof. It rains and blows and snows – and loggers thread their way through such conditions amidst ground strewn with felled trees.
....We have had such an abundant for-est around us in B.C. and across Can-ada, and we have used this great natural resource to the advantage of all Cana-dians. Companies large and small have prospered over the years – and indivi-duals by the hundreds of thousands have earned their bread and fed their families from this great forest.
....It is now becoming clear to us all that in extracting the great stands of trees we have neglected a proper renewable cycle in planting and caring for future crops. This is a glaring example of a waste philosophy we adopted long ago, that has allowed us to rationalize our actions. It could best be called an “allowable waste philosophy.”
....We have certainly wasted in the forests. Let’s see how this philosophy has affected our people in the excess of accidents and fatals in our industry.
....In 1984 17 of 26 fatals were fallers. Never has the ratio of fallers’ fatals to the remainder of the occupation been so one sided. Down through the past 30 years that I have records of, it is noted that about 25 percent to 30 percent of the fatals in the logging industry hap-pened to fallers. At the same time, these fallers occupied about 10 percent of the work force jobs!
....Clearly, in 1984 something happened to bring on this sharp rise in fatals in this one occupation. There could be several
28   ·   BRITISH COLUMBIA LUMBERMAN                    APRIL 1985

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cated people of our industry – from many walks – that more have not died at their job.
....Logging is a hazardous industry. And, the jobs in it have, at times, been held by people not qualified for their work. They were sometimes protected by union security and by a lack of replacements. Promotions have been given to unqualified men only because of an inability to hire qualified personnel. It should be noted that recession has changed some of the thoughts above.
....While the industry has always had a good solid work force, it has in so many cases been the careless acts of those not aware of the hazards about them that have caused injuries to themselves or others.
....And yet who is to say that the very atmosphere of waste they sometimes work in, is not a major contributing factor to careless acts?
....The industry cries out for a better safety record of lress fatals and less accidents. There are some well orga-nized companies that constantly work hard for attaining better and better safe working methods. But unforntunately there are too many companies, groups and associations not paying enough attention to their basic safety programs. Only more waste can be expected if this trend continues.
....I cannot help wondering about the sad episode of the “Nanaimo Group” (B.C. Lumberman Nov. ’81) that held new promise for standards of training for Coastal Fallers. This group was formed to bring together union, mana-gement and Workers’ Compensation
Board representatives to draw up a set of standards for companies to follow in the training of fallers in B.C.’s coastal forests.
....It seems the problem’s solution was too much for some of the delegates to handle and the project was shelved for thec time being. Were those meetings of important people in our industry a waste too? I certainly hope not, for we shall need those standards of training. Possibly moreso than ever now. We change very gradually in this industry. Oh, yes our machines change from steam to diesel and from hand saws to chain saws and from wooden spars to grapple yarders, but sometimes we don’t change as fast as our machines. And that inability to change our attitudes toward how to make this industry a safer place is costing – and costing plenty!
....Many of the larger companies and some smaller ones, have been able to avoid high cost Workers’ Compen-sation payments by contracting out the various high hazard occupations such as falling and yarding and loading etc. These costs then fall on the shoulders of the small contractor. If this contractor has a high cost WCB fatal or accident and he can’t pay his assessment, he can declare bankruptcy and the cost is shared by the entire industry.
....All this is well and good for the victim, for he is what really counts. However the prime company isn’t liable for high WCB costs because the small contractor has taken the risk. One has to hope that there is a good safety dialogue between the prime company and the contractor and his employees.

....Two things are driving up the costs of accidents and fatals in our industry. The rapidly escalating cost of hospital and administration needed for patients and our inability to cope with the lessening of accidents and fatals.
....Our basic WCB assessments rise because of these two factors and one has to wonder if the business of con-tracting Out really lessens the over all cost to the prime company? Time will tell.
....One thing is certain – there is still no substitute for talent and training – in this industry or any other. Some industries go to great lengths to search for talent, and train their work force. The forest industry has never been noted for vying for leadership in this race. We seem more interested in continuing the allowable waste syndrome and hoping for a better tomorrow.
....This industry is beset by many problems today. Some are not for us to solve – such as quotas or tariffs on our forest products. But, to some of the problems we still hold the key. And the rewards for a safer logging sector of the forest industry can be very tangible.
....However, it takes a lot of work. And people have to pull together. And standards have to be found. And there must be no lip service.
....It is possible to have a safer industry. Or should we keep on wasting?

Keep out of the bight,

Bill Moore

                BRITISH COLUMBIA LUMBERMAN                    APRIL 1985