Forestry is one of the most dangerous industries in California. If this is how you earn your living, compliance with safety standards is crucial. Along with proper safety training, supervision, and providing the necessary safety equipment, there is not much more your employer can do to keep you safe.
Your part in staying safe as a logger involves complying with safety protocols, looking out for yourself and your co-workers, and never becoming complacent. Too many lives are lost in this industry because workers who have labored in the forests for years without adverse incidents think they are invincible and that all their experience would keep them safe.
Typical hazards in logging
The following are aspects of logging of which you and your employer must never lose sight:
- Biological and chemical hazards: These include toxic fumes from chainsaws, pesticides, and biological hazards like insect bites, pollen and plants that could cause allergic reactions.
- Extreme weather: Heat stress and cold stress are both life-threatening conditions. Depending on the season, frequent breaks in warm or cool rest areas along with hot or cold beverages can prevent these illnesses.
- Falling trees: Not only trees but also falling branches, tree hang-ups and chainsaw kickbacks can cause severe injuries. Proper training in the use of safety equipment and safe practices can limit these risks.
- Site and terrain: Your job will often have you risking your life on steep slopes and slippery soil types. Terrain hazards include rock falls and machinery accidents.
- Loading, unloading and transporting: Loading and unloading logs are inherently dangerous jobs that require proper safety equipment and compliance with safety standards. Also, transporting wood in adverse weather conditions on narrow roads needs special skills.
- WBV: Whole-body vibrations can cause repetitive strain injuries and lower back pain. Operating equipment like loaders and skidders can cause WBV.
- HAVS: Hand-arm vibrations when you operate a chainsaw, brushcutter or another hand-held power tool can compromise the blood circulation in your forearms and hands. This could damage bones, joints, muscles, tendons and nerves.
- Hearing loss: Hearing protection is crucial if you work with equipment such as brushcutters and chainsaws. Long-term exposure can cause gradual hearing loss, which is irreversible.
Keeping these and other logging hazards in mind and taking mitigating measures can prevent workplace accidents.
However, if you are a logger, the chances are good that you will suffer some type of injury sooner or later. When that happens, be prepared to take the correct steps to obtain workers’ compensation benefits. This is a daunting process, and you need not tackle it without help. An attorney who has experience in dealing with workers in the most dangerous occupations in California can provide the necessary support and guidance in pursuit of maximum benefits under applicable state laws.