Logging is a hazardous occupation with more frequent and serious injuries and fatalities than other industries. The majority of logging accidents occur when workers are struck by a falling or flying object or get caught and crushed between objects. Loggers (including fellers, limbers, buckers, and choker setters), truck drivers, general laborers, and material machine operators are injured or killed most often. Training, the proper use of safety procedures and equipment, and the proper tools can keep you safe while working in a logging operation.
Strict control of the work area is critical during logging operations. A Cal/OSHA-defined “competent person” must evaluate each logging area for hazards and make an appropriate logging plan of action. Know and understand this logging plan before starting work. Work areas are designed so that cut trees won’t land in adjacent, occupied areas. Respect the assigned work areas. Make sure that you are stationed at least two tree lengths away from the nearest cutting zone.
When entering a cutting zone, evaluate the area for hazards. Note the slope of the land, wind conditions, and look for signs of loose bark, broken limbs, or other tree damage. Plan and prepare for retreat zones in case of an emergency. Evaluate each tree and its falling path for hazards and potential problems before cutting. Don’t work downhill from a cutting area because trees or limbs can slide or roll after cutting.
Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions on logging equipment and tools. Use the appropriate equipment and tools for each job and keep them maintained. Repair or replace logging equipment and tools when necessary. Attend and understand the training that your employer offers on logging operations, unpredictable situations, and medical emergencies or first aid.
Be careful when working around mobile logging equipment such as trucks, skidders, and loaders. Wear your seatbelt and don’t allow coworkers to grab onto the equipment for a ride. Maintain the equipment and ensure it has appropriate safety features such as a roll bar or falling object protective guards. Take care around loaded vehicles and equipment because piles of logs can be unstable.
Wear your personal protective equipment (PPE). Gloves protect your hands while chaps or saw pants protect your legs. Your head, face, and eyes should be protected with a hard hat that has a chin strap and the use of goggles or a face shield. Use hearing protection such as ear plugs or ear muffs, but stay alert for emergency warning signals. Steel toed shoes with a supportive ankle are a must to protect your feet. Lastly, know where you and your coworkers are in relation to the activities that are going on nearby. Although your job is important, your safety is more important.