TIMMINS, Ont. – Workplace injuries are still a key concern in the forestry industry and many of those accidents involve trucks.
Marc Guiho of the Ontario Forestry Safe Workplace Association (OFSWA) was at FERIC’s recent conference to speak on how companies can help reduce the wood haul injury rate.
Of the lost-time accidents occurring during a haul, 39 per cent are related to falls, he said. Twenty-three per cent of lost-time injuries result from overexertion (lifting, pulling etc.) and the remainder involve drivers being pinned between equipment, usually during loading and unloading. Despite fall-protection rules, “You still hear of truck drivers falling off their loads,” said Guiho.
He suggested keeping ladders, steps and handholds free of ice and snow and using fall-protection equipment to minimize falls.
Accidents on logging roads are another issue that just won’t go away. Often these accidents involve the public and snowmobilers, but there are truck vs. truck crashes as well.
“You should know where you are at all times,” stressed Guiho. “Pay attention to your markers.”
OFSWA’s objective is to find ways of lowering the injury rate in forestry. That means there must be more rigorous self-enforcement, more education and training and the sharing of best practices throughout the industry, said Guiho.
Some of the best practices adopted by trucking companies include: making tachographs mandatory and monitoring them; placing warning markers and signs near one-way bridges; mandatory speed reduction on bridges; active co-operation and planning with local snowmobile clubs that utilize logging roads; and an organized media tour to help educate the public about safely travelling logging roads.
“You’re always going to have blueberry pickers out there,” Guiho admitted.
Grant Aune of Advantage Fleet Services in Vancouver, B.C. also had suggestions for how carriers can reduce accidents and workplace injuries. He spent 25 years with the RCMP where he specialized in reconstructing commercial vehicle accidents, so he’s seen his share of crashes.
Proper risk management should be a priority for all trucking companies, Aune said. In B.C. alone, 250 people have been killed in logging-related incidents over the past 10 years. For every fatality, there are 600 near misses, Aune said.
“The 600 near-misses are the things that could have happened, and if you pay attention to them before someone gets hurt, they’re going to dwindle,” he said.
Not only should carriers be worried about the welfare of their employees, but there are economical reasons for emphasizing safety as well, Aune said. For every dollar of hard costs resulting from a lost-time injury, Aune said there are between $13 and $58 in soft costs. Those include staff training, legal costs, overtime for replacement workers, loss of expertise and loss of reputation.
Because of the high center of gravity on most log trucks, rollovers are one of the most common types of accidents they experience. Speed is often a factor leading to a rollover, Aune said, but he added “often it’s a process where the driver gets startled.”
Five common causes of rollovers include: load/tire/suspension failure; tripping (something impedes the tire); soft shoulders; hazard avoidance; and excessive speed.
Having good risk management practices can reduce these costly accidents, Aune said.”Pay attention to the performance of your vehicle and your fleet from the past,” he urged, noting many times trends foreshadow impending accidents.
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